December 08: Design, living and trends for home and garden

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December 08: Design, living and trends for home and garden

 

Speed racers

Neither Zack Snider nor Dan Zimmerman, co-founders and licensed contractor and licensed architect and contractor, respectively, of local design firm Alloy Workshop, won the 2008 IRWIN Industrial Tools Ultimate Tradesman Challenge this year, but we’re proud of their lightning-fast drilling skills all the same. Snider and Zimmerman were two of 20 semi-finalists to win an all-expense-paid trip to the Texas Motor Speedway on November 2 to compete for the chance to take one of four finalists spots.

Zimmerman, left, puts the
stopwatch on drillmaster Snider.

IRWIN’s annual competition began with 250 regional rounds where competitors measured, marked and drilled holes into a piece of wood and were judged on their speed and accuracy. Last year, Snider was coached by his colleague, Zimmerman, and made it to the final round. Snider actually had the fastest time in 2007, but just missed taking top prize when his jig didn’t fit his holes (and we mean that only in the literal sense).
 
This year, Zimmerman chose to compete against Snider and neither made it to the final round and the chance to win $1.26 million. When asked if the divide and conquer routine had proved his and Zimmerman’s downfall, Snider responded: “Not at all. I can do that motion in my sleep, but it’s like being a baseball pitcher and only getting one shot to win or lose a game.”—Katherine Ludwig

Sarah Owen

What’s on your browser?

Decorative artist Sarah Owen

What’s on her browser: designspongeonline.com

What it is: A Brooklyn-based roundup of stores, products, designers that focuses, Owen says, on indie designers and handmade goods.

Why she likes it: “Design Sponge is a wonderful resource for anyone interested in art, interior design, architecture, furniture design, product design and lighting,” Owen says. “I find constant inspiration from the weekly D.I.Y. projects as well as the Sneak Peeks feature, which offers a detailed glimpse into the homes of current artists and designers.”

Making feathered friends

Unlike big-city pigeons, feeding most wild birds takes a bit more savvy than simply scattering stale bread on the ground. It’s a lot of fun to attract juncos and cardinals to your yard, but there are right and wrong ways to do it. Some tips for the birdfeeder season:

Winter means hungry birds; if you feed them, make sure to keep hungry cast away.

Black-oil sunflower seed—which is a bit smaller and easier for birds to handle than the striped seeds you’re probably more familiar with—is considered the best general attractor for many species.

You can experiment with other foods, but to avoid giving birds toxins, don’t put out anything containing chocolate, and check seed for mold.

Choose among ground feeders, tube feeders, or hopper feeders, but remember not to place them where they might allow your cat to pounce from nearby bushes. A good rule is to put feeders 10’ from any predators’ hiding spots.

Birds need grit for their gizzards, and one way to provide it is to save eggshells, sterilize in boiling water for 10 minutes, then crush them. Put them out in a dish near your feeder.—Erika Howsare

Beam us up

One of the biggest, scariest projects we’ve done so far on our house was also one of the most classic moves remodelers love to make: tearing out walls. That’s not such a huge deal when the walls just exist to divide rooms, but these were load-bearing walls that helped support the roof. We knew we’d have to replace them with large overhead beams, which we wanted to leave exposed. So we ordered red-oak beams and posts from a local sawmill.

That was the easy part. Actually putting them in proved to be kind of death-defying. Here’s how it works: Before you take out an old wall, you have to build two “temporary walls” on either side of it. We had some expert help in this procedure from my father, who knew

Before and after: A wall and doorway becomes
a wide-open space under a red oak beam.

exactly how to construct the temporaries and how to sledgehammer out the old studs after we’d stripped away the drywall and taken out the wiring.

Once the area was prepped and notches chiseled into the posts and beams so they’d fit together, we carried in the first 350-pound beam and maneuvered it between the temporary walls. Then we lifted it gradually like a seesaw, raising each end a foot at a time (with lots of grunting) and supporting with specially-cut 2×4”s, until the beam was a couple inches higher than its final position. Then we slid in the posts one at a time, let the beam down, and voila! Temporary walls out, heartrates back to normal, and we were finished.

Everyone was very happy with the results, and even happier that the beam hadn’t fallen on anyone’s limbs. Such are the simple joys of doing it yourself.—Spackled Egg

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