JBB vs The Bolt
When we first visited the house, we knew the kitchen was ugly and kind of beat up, but we (well, I) thought we could salvage it for a few years by fixing up the doors and repainting it. Once we closed and started looking in detail, though, we realized things were actually pretty messed up. My father-in-law, who knows a lot about woodwork, was instrumental in convincing me that everything was actually doomed and needed to be replaced. So after some grim thought about the need to redo the kitchen, I surrendered and we started planning the cheap kitchen redo.
Which brings me to challenge #1 -- demolishing the upper kitchen cabinets.
This is a good task for me, because when I was a theater geek in high school I started by helping to take apart all the flats (the giant paintable pieces of scenery) so I know a thing or two about busting stuff up. Plus breaking things = stress relief.
I learned a few things during the process, including:
- The old extractor fan was venting into a hole in the chimney. Not into a flue, mind you, but into a hole that looks like it has just been whacked through the bricks.
- The ceiling isn't the ceiling -- it's actually pieces of wallboard that are covering the original plaster and lath ceiling. Probably for the best because the plaster up there is crumbling like crazy and is covered in a brownish paint that I am neurotically convinced is lead paint that is going to kill everyone in the house starting with the cat.
- The Bolt.
Dear Lord, The Bolt.
Basically the old cabinets were probably built in place, by someone who mostly had no idea what they were doing. A hodge-podge of nails, screws, etc. For example, the shelves were two pieces of narrower wood held together by heavy shelf paper and some 1x1-ish braces. Despite this craziness, it seems like the intention was more elaborate at first, because the leftmost part of the cabinets was much sturdier, including the use of these giant 4" bolts with heavy-duty anchors in the wall to hold stuff up. Not so bad overall, if weird. Except for The Bolt. The Bolt was one of four holding the cabinets to the ceiling. Three came out fine, but The Bolt was somehow running through the old metal lath and up into some unholy nether region, and the bolt-head was a flat-head screw that was totally, totally stripped, so neither electric drill nor manual screwdriver could turn the MF more than maybe a half turn at a time. So basically half the cabinet was hanging from the ceiling by nothing but this one unholy bolt, that absolutely refused to move, or pull out, or anything. I don't have a reciprocating saw, so I ended up resorting to manually sawing away the wood around the bolt so I could pry everything out around it. This involved a hand saw that I had to keep whacking into the ceiling getting showered with plaster and paint dust (because as I said, the ceiling is crumbling like crazy). And because this is the ceiling, everything was over my head so my arms got more & more tired, not to mention keeping my balance because I am doing all this while standing on the base cabinet b/c Jen had the ladder upstairs painting the second coat of the bedroom. So I was standing there giving myself a plaster-dust shower and trying different ways to get around The Bolt for like 45 minutes, at the end of which I was pretty much incapable of saying anything that wasn't a savage, Kevin-Smith-at-his-most-profane type curse. Nonetheless the forces of good prevailed and all the top cabinets are finally down. Stay tuned for pictures of The Bolt and the de-cabineted kitchen.