Project: Family Room

Family Room Project Stat Sheet

Start Time 8am
End Time 8pm
Feet of Chair Rail 64
Feet of lost chair rail from botched cuts Around 4
Number of successfully hammered
finishing nails
Around 30
Number of bent finishing nails Around 50
Number of expletives yelled 84
Number of Red Bulls 2
Number of Rum and Cokes A lot more than 2
Number of times blood was shed 2
Movies watched Christmas Vacation
Die Hard
Die Hard 2
Fight Club

About two weeks ago, I was hiding from Meg in the family room, which as I’ve said before, is where I spend most of my time. Not surprisingly, the room looks like hell. Since moving in, we left the room painted builder’s white. For the non-homeowners, builder’s paint is practically chalkboard, as merely walking too close to the walls will create marks. I realized that since I spent so much time down there, it’d be nice to ditch the ghetto just-out-of-college-feel in favor of something more warm and homey. Motivation was planted, and plans were in motion for Thanksgiving weekend.

I had a pretty good idea of what colors I wanted, but since it’s a big room I wanted to do a little more. Meg came up with the idea of installing chair rail around the room as well. After googling to find out just what the hell chair rail is, I realized I was going to have to use a saw, hammer, and nails for this.

I immediately enlisted help. I’m a really good painter, but outside of that I’m pretty much into uncharted territory. I’m also not that bright, since instead of trying to get my brother-in-law or dad to help, I ask someone as equally handyman-challenged as myself. With promises of rum and Perkins the next morning, JJ was in.

What JJ and I lack in general handyman skills we made up for in spatial, geometric, and trigonometric proficiencies. In other words, it was two geeks attacking a problem that was largely measurements and angles. You may not believe it, but we did a kick ass job too. It took a bit to get the hang of the miter box, which required us to redo the math in degrees instead of radians, but after that we only botched two cuts. On one cut I got lazy and tried to snap off a hanging piece of wood. I still don’t know how this happened, but it splintered the board a good 8 inches. The other cut that was botched was, ironically enough, a memory issue. I read the sheet of measurements, precisely measured 10 5/8″, and made an exact cut. The problem was, the sheet said 15 5/8″. Somehow, it got lost in my head. That’s when I popped Red Bull #2.

Once again blood was shed in a home project, and once again it was mine. I tried to get fancy and use finishing nails in place of an awl. That really sucks as a strategy, since I bent a shitload of nails and really pegged the expletive count in the process. On one occasion I had to get a pair of pliers to pull out the bent nail. The nail was deep in there, so I had to apply quite a bit of force in dislodging it. Once it finally came loose, however, I ended up launching myself a good distance across the room, with said nail taking a nice chunk out of my arm in the process. I’m not sure where the other wound came from, but my opposite arm had a nice gash taken out as well.

Thanks to JJ for waking up so early on a 4 day weekend to help out; we did pretty good for two computer programmers working with tools. Somehow, I resisted the urge to apply the chair rail’s white paint to the palm of my hand and slap his bald head, even with the awesome Lord of the Rings white hand of Saruman reference it would have made. While he wouldn’t have seen that coming, he did take a few steps back and put on a face of panic each time I picked up the saw. And a quick thanks to my dad too, who talked me through an overview of what I’d have to do a few nights earlier.

In the end, I’m really happy with the way it came out. Most readers will see it on New Years. I’ll get some pictures up if my camera decides it wants to let the batteries last for longer than 3 minutes before draining them completely.


  1. Now really, wouldn’t every one of you also step back in panic if Jay picked up a saw in your presence? Exactly. :)

    The day was alot of fun. It was also a great day to do that sort of thing – it was warm enough outside to comfortably work with the windows open. The creation of the chair rail was also an interesting challenge, the likes of which I had never attempted before. So, if nothing else, it was good practice. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    To sum up the experience, I’d have to say that we safely (or if you consider Jay’s injuries, not so safely) proved Trigonometry > Bob Villa.

  2. Next time you’re offering bribes to do work in the house, why not throw in a free round of tetnus shots before said project begins?? I bet there would be a lot more takers ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. “I immediately enlisted help. Iรขโ‚ฌโ„ขm a really good painter”

    We still have most of a house to paint and since our choice in colors is similar and I wouldn’t have to hear “this is baby poo brown… or is it chocolate?” again, could you come help paint please? (I guess that’s a blog entry for me for whenever Jon gets us back up and running…)

    Pretty please โ“

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