While I am not necessarily a fan of major modifications to clear fir solid wood legacy doors,
this was a fun project and consistent with the type of work I was asked to do back when
when such doors were widely available and relatively inexpensive.

Do not try this with a foam filled hollow core fiberglass or steel door! While anything
is possible, solid wood remains the simplest and best choice for this type of modification.
Anything else could be cost prohibitive.

Now the wait for squirrel Godot begins!


Many times have I reiterated a reiteration I reiterated many times in the past but still am I surprised when I must reiterate my reiteration yet again.

There is no such thing as a simple job.

People ask what will be the cost to fix this? Many times I answer: ” I have no idea” and this is why:
there really is no such thing as a simple job.

Many jobs are not straightforward out-of-the-box repairs.

The other day I went to tighten a stretched out cable for a suspended bird feeder.

Simple enough.

Loosen the clamps, pull up the slack and tighten the clamps once again.

Unfortunately, the cable had not stretched. The fascia board loosely attached to the house was the culprit and became even looser when I stretched the cable taut.


20 feet above ground on a ladder and a good chunk of the afternoon to detach and reattach everything properly with reinforced hardware so the bird feeder cable would not sag was the actual repair requirement.

And this is not the first time things went awry in a quick hurry.



So reiterate after me:


A new toy for the backyard woodlot!

Cut a railroad tie into a big piece and a little piece, cross lap the little piece and big piece
together to form an L support for an old car spring, attach a pivot bracket and 6 foot length of
1 inch square tube above the car spring, force the axe handle remnant into a 1 inch diameter
galvanized nipple and bolt axe assembly into the business end of the tube, make a box of sufficient
dimension to hold 5 standard red bricks and use U-bolts to attach the counterweight above the
axe head and voila! a beautiful backyard wood splitting tool modeled on some of the European
versions seen on the Internet will appear before your very eyes!

Now your mileage may vary but my cash layout for this little project was $12.00 to buy the
railroad tie from Home Depot, $2.00 to buy a 1 inch galvanized steel nipple, $11.00 for
miscellaneous u-bolts, lag bolts, washers and nuts etc. for a grand total of about $25.00
cash money USD!

The car spring came from my friendly local mechanic (Thanks Rocky!), the tube and bracket,
bricks, plywood etc. came from my junk pile and of course, the inspiration came from
the Internet (thanks Youtube!)

To quote the legendary George Peppard, Leader of the A Team: ” I love it when a plan comes together!”

Happy firewood splitting everyone!

The Dog Days of August howl with pain when a beautiful clear fir vintage solid wood door
arrives in the shop seriously crippled by an encounter of the unpleasant kind!

A real good old timey Legacy Entry Door should not suffer such indignity!

Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! O how hast this most grievous wound come to pass?

Fortunately Habitat for Humanity provides a perfect replacement salvage panel to transplant
into the damaged heritage door with complete recovery anticipated and followed by many more
decades of useful service in the dwelling of origin for this most hearty and faithful relic
of times past.

The world made whole again. Whew!

For other door repair adventures




TJ Kattermann-One man repairs and home improvements in Raleigh’s Glenwood South and the metropolitan area.

(919) 834-4833

Okay, summer is officially here!

Now is a good time to look back at all the Springtime Spruce up 2017 repairs
completed between thundershowers and routine maintenance chores here
in beautiful downtown Raleigh.

You can even compare and contrast Spring Spruce Up 2017 with Spring Spruce Up 2016! (CLICK HERE)

Spring came early in 2017 with flowers in January!

And to keep up the tradition of deck work on hot days,the ONLY and HOTTEST Day
in March (80+ degrees)was reserved for floor board refurbishment:

Previous hot weather deck refurbishment in June not March! (CLICK HERE) and (CLICK HERE)

And yes, this year more window work!

(For other views of Window Work CLICK HERE OR CLICK HERE)


This spring included a road trip to Chatham County to swap out an old slab stave
core door with a new slab stave core door. $5.00 round trip on the 540 toll road.
A long day but definitely an exciting adventure!


Sometimes steps are not the proper 7/11 inch rise and run. A simple fix is to change the height
with the proper size tread.

Another step/front stoop height adjustment (CLICK HERE)

And not to forget the ever popular undersink Sponge Tray installation with special offset

Or the ever popular sliding cabinet drawer retrofit:

Of course, Great Grandma was right. Carpets should be beaten clean every spring regardless of
whether they are dirty or not. Good habits and all that.

So here at the International Handyman Headquarters we just dragged that office carpet outside,
drenched the entire surface with soapy carpet cleaner, cranked up the pressure washer and went
to town!

Great Grandma would be so proud!

So there you have the story, the whole story and nothing but the story!

Just a small sample of the mischief and merriment from Spring 2017!

Now I brace for the heat and humidity of the Dog Days Of August! Call me a with work order!
We can laugh together in the steamy Southern Sunshine!

Come the Apocalypse, this hand held auger bit drill (aka “brace”) will do the
same work for humanity all hand powered tools have done for centuries.

This one, of course, is not exactly your grandfathers brace and bit since
the bit is the innovative modern adjustable version introduced sometime
in the second half of the 20th Century.

Any size hole up to 3 inches with just a turn of the adjustment screw! Prior
to that most carpenters carried an entire cloth tool roll filled with every size
needed on the job to make holes from 1/4 inch up to a gargantuan 1 1/4 inch diameter.

For larger holes an additional tool roll of large hole augers would need to find
space in the toolbox as well.

I used this particular combination brace and bit all through the late 1970’s through
the middle 1990’s- mostly to bore knob and lock holes in the solid fir doors commonly
available at the time.

Before battery operated drills with individually sized hole saws the trusty brace and bit
was the go-to hole making tool of the day.

Of course, in the 21st century most doors come from the factory with knob and lock holes
pre-drilled so even the need to cut holes onsite is uncommon.

Nevertheless, as recently as a few weeks ago I needed to make a special retro sized hole
and none of the many hole saws or spade bits in my tool box could quite do the job.

So maybe the day of the classic brace and bit is not yet gone. They are still for sale
(new!) online. Go figure.

The world is filled with technical specification requirements, commercial,
legal and government code restrictions,even engineering design demands-
all of which fall under the general rubric of “Best Practices”.

Most people in most work environments accept the value of these generally
accepted practice templates, usually based on a previous generations experience
of bitter failure from past attempts to achieve a certain desirable outcome.

Architects tell more than a few dramatically epic war stories.

For many, Boston’s John Hancock Building may come immediately to mind. CLICK LINK



But then appears today’s Exhibit A from my little world of residential
repairs and improvement- an example so far off the beaten path as to make
any carpenter question the value of code compliant design or any other generally
accepted “Best Practice”.

Forget about the absence of X braces or the retrofitted angle brackets (and bolts?)
and just meditate briefly on the location of a two story load bearing post positioned
in the middle of a 12 foot open span rim joist! Held in place by nails? Impossible to
determine from the street.

Truly this is a marvel of by guess and by golly backwoods engineering.

The ultimate Best Practices Paradox!

Given the age of materials this structure has been in service at least ten
if not twenty or even thirty years! In all that time people have used these
stairs and no harm has come to anyone.

By what magic does this deck remain upright? Surely BEST PRACTICE protocols
would predict a quick and early demise long ago!

Mortal minds will be hard put to determine whether this edifice is an example of
divine intervention or satanic interference.

But there she stands proud and unquestioned for all to see.