The how to do it yourself hub or DIY in my life.

Fence Painting

The how to do it yourself hub or DIY in my life.

 
 

When I was about 7 years old I had my first exposure to DIY. My Dad was what was called in those days "good with his hands". This is not to be taken out of context and used in a modern Idiom as the connotations would be somewhat different. He was in fact a handy man probably where the word handyman came from.

My Dad

Dad could paint, build, and put up wallpaper with equal aplomb. The job he would do would be very professional and he had a very critical eye. He was always busy painting, repairing and doing wallpaper. I would "help" him by passing various items such as paintbrushes, turps etc. You get the idea. I loved doing this and felt very important. "Mom I am helping Dad" I would say chest puffed out, serious expression on my face.

Scouting and Handymen

At any rate about that same age I became a cub scout. Now cubs had to pass various tests. The first test was to pass the tender pad. The reward for his test was a pocket badge which was accompanied by a neckerchief and a cap. Thereafter in order for a cub scout to get one eye open (a Star on one side of the cap) another test was taken and then the second Eye (another star on the other side of the cap) was given after further proof of proficiency. One was then entitled to pass various badges of merit such as swimming, first aid and handyman's badges. My father's prowess was well known in our community and the scout mistress (the Akela - very attractive woman I might add) asked my father to administer the handyman test. I was at a great advantage having "helped" dad on numerous occasions.

I volunteered to take the test with a group of others. I was the only one to (wait for it) FAIL!

I then asked why everyone else passed and I failed. Dad said, as his son, he expected me to have a higher standard than the rest. "But you know I am good, and I have helped you lots!". He replied "perhaps you need to really help me". Thus our apprenticeship scheme was borne. To this day I wonder whether that was not a scheme for him to get child slave labor.

Painting Apprenticeship

But I learned. By golly I learned. He taught me to paint.

  • How to put paint on the brush. Not too much - don't drip. How to apply the paint. Start at the top work your way down.
  • Smooth brush strokes.
  • Rather two coats sparingly applied than one thick one with run marks.
  • He taught me how to "cut In" at the roof or at the sides of walls where different colours were to be applied.
  • He taught me to do a test strip when opening a new tin of paint. To check batch and dye numbers on the tin. If a test strip did not match, then a whole wall would need to be redone.
  • He taught me to prepare skirting boards and cornices. To sand down those items before putting new varnish down.
  • He taught me how to put down newspapers or linen drip maps for large walls.
  • He made me clean the brushes after use. Water based paints required washing under a running tap to ensure that the brush was clean and free of paint. Oil based paints required the brushes to be soaked in turpentine and then washed off and dried. We could not afford to replace brushes after each painting session.

My apprenticeship with dad was pretty thorough (and pretty long too). I re-took the test and passed with flying colours. In the mean time dad used to paint apartments, part time (nights and weekends), to supplement his income and I became his permanent assistant over many years.

Wallpapering

He also did wallpapering and taught me the art of putting up wallpaper.

  • How to mix the paste - not too thick not too thin, not lumpy
  • How to measure the lengths of paper against the wall, always allow about 2 inches extra which you can trim off later.
  • Use a clean paste brush
  • Fold the paper over and put paste on generously. By folding, the paste ended up on both sides. (Velvet based papers were a different story and more difficult to hang.)
  • Hang the sheets from the top unfolding as you go down.
  • Use the brush and a damp sponge to smooth out the paper
  • Trim the excess from the bottom after it was partially dry.
  • Always match the pattern before cutting the next strip
  • In order to ensure the wallpaper was straight fold the paper over edge to edge to ensure the paper was horizontal.
  • Do not try to cut out for light switches and plug fittings. Remove the covers first. Ensure the electricity is off (you are working with wet wallpaper and paste.
  • When hanging the paper poke out the cover by hand or with a box cutter, ensuring that you don't exceed the area to be covered by the covers.

Over time, I learned a few other tricks but I still manage to hit my thumb with hammer when putting up nails. I cannot count the number of times I have stood on the paint tray or spilled wallpaper glue. Some things can just not be taught.

Wives and DIY

Why is it that wives never believe that you can do DIY? They are always astonished at the result and think that you got lucky. I have painted entire houses inside and out fighting a rearguard action with the ex about my ability to undertake and complete the task.

After a few bad happenings in my life I repaired a farm. I did doors, I repainted. I refitted the kitchen including fitting an eye level oven and retro-fitted kitchen cupboards. Did I ever mention that most house are not square and ovens and cupboards are. It is quite a challenge to fit hem into the allocated spaces short of rebuilding the kitchen. So selective pruning and grafting, leaving a perception of perfect fit is the order of the day. Believe me I am a master at that art.

Another Great Hubmob

Comments 34 comments

Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

I never much enjoyed painting and decorating, but I found plumbing and electrics quite a lot of fun. And saved me a lot of money too.


sixtyorso profile image

sixtyorso 8 years ago from South Africa Author

Hi Paraglider. I never actually said I enjoyed DIY. And I do not particularly enjoy it.

I just know how to do it.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Much appreciated as always


Just_Rodney profile image

Just_Rodney 8 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

A nice historical review of The Apprentice, glad you passed not only the test, but also managed to put this into practical purpses in later life.

I too dabbled with paint and ended up with a trayful all over the wooden floor, my late wife never let me loose with a paint tray again.

Thanks for the flashback.


sixtyorso profile image

sixtyorso 8 years ago from South Africa Author

Only a pleasure Rodney, what are memories for if not to be shared.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 8 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

I loved hearing your story sixty, it was just such a lovely image of you helping your Dad out. :)


Misha profile image

Misha 8 years ago from DC Area

For me it was a survival skill back there in Soviet times, and now it saves quite a bit of money, especially on car repairs :)

I never quite mastered painting, though... :(


sixtyorso profile image

sixtyorso 8 years ago from South Africa Author

Misty Thanks for reading and your comments. As always much appreciated.

Misha Yes it must have been a different life back then. Maybe a hub on life in the USSR sometime would be interesting and informative. Thanks for stopping by and comenting


spryte profile image

spryte 8 years ago from Arizona, USA

What a pleasure reading this hub. I hate painting...but I love hanging wallpaper. Not sure why, but I am better at it...especially now that it comes prepasted and all you have to do is soak it for a bit.

Unfortunately, in AZ all my walls are stucco...papering wouldn't go over too well.


ajcor profile image

ajcor 8 years ago from NSW. Australia

thanks for this hub - sixtorso - bet you would get distinctions now - lovely that you be your father so much - I used to be ok with repair work - ok borderline - but then I re-married and my sons grew up so it's all good now.


sixtyorso profile image

sixtyorso 8 years ago from South Africa Author

Spryte welcome to my humble hub. The wallpaper on stucco walls - now that would be a novel decorating idea. lumps and bumps and all. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. BTW when next you guys want hijack a hub try this one for size. I would be interested to see what happens to the ratings etc.

Ajcor. Thanks for stoppping by and commenting. I am not so sure about distinctions but an above average would be fine. These days I prefer to pay someone else to do the work. However, I always have atube of superglue handy - ready to accidently glue my fingers together when doing a minor repair job.


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA

My dad let us paint part of the house when we were little and it was fun. Today I only like to paint on canvases for paintings, but I appreciate reading about how to paint walls better, something I am would need to practice. Very descriptive how-to hub that with a great story behind it.


sixtyorso profile image

sixtyorso 8 years ago from South Africa Author

Hi Sweetie Pie Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. Your comments always mean so much.


Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 8 years ago from UK

My Mum and Dad always worked as a team, Mum hanging the wallpaper, or doing the painting, and Dad directing the action! You learn so much both consciously and unconsciously from your parents. Both my husbands have been amazed that I'm willing to decorate and hang wallpaper, but it was only through watching my Mum all those years ago.


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 8 years ago from Australia

Sixty you sure dragged out some memories, my old man used to repair boots and shoes to supplement income after the depression.

I was the tack boy, which meant it was my job to pull out all the old tacks, straighten the tacks that could be reused and put them in an old jar!

I kid you not folks!


sixtyorso profile image

sixtyorso 8 years ago from South Africa Author

Hi Ag Yes us older folk remember a different era - not nearly so affluent as today's society. that's one of the reason I constantly refer to traditional history. that vignette of your life could make for an interesting and informative hub. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.


sixtyorso profile image

sixtyorso 8 years ago from South Africa Author

Hi Amanda. Yes it is amazing how much we learn by watching and "helping" our parents as youngsters. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting.


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 8 years ago from Australia

sixty I'm not quite sure if I'm ready to face up to that yet, still a few old scars to heal!


sixtyorso profile image

sixtyorso 8 years ago from South Africa Author

Ag I fully understand but must admit that in some of my hubs, facing the pain has helped the healing process.


Just_Rodney profile image

Just_Rodney 8 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

Sixty, I agree with you it certainly does help writing about certain periods or events from our past. Whether they be in humorous form or in more factual and serious mode, the catharsis that writing it down and then reading it helps chase away some of that bitterness, anger and self doubts, that surrounds those certain chapters in our lives.


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 8 years ago from Australia

sixty and just_rod thanks guys I know that what you are saying is correct.

It is only since Iv'e been on Hubpages and watched how other people have been able to open up and allow us to look into their pasts that Ive realised that it may help me get rid of some demons! I just need some time to summon the courage.

Thanks guys :-[)


sixtyorso profile image

sixtyorso 8 years ago from South Africa Author

Ag Always a pleasure.


Pam Roberson profile image

Pam Roberson 8 years ago from Virginia

Very nice hub Sixty. Thanks for sharing the warm memories and giving tips. I enjoyed it and made notes for some of the tips you shared. :)


marisuewrites profile image

marisuewrites 8 years ago from USA

Ahh Sixtyorso, you are reflecting on the needs of all to be able to at least fix a few things in their life.  My husband is like your dad, a fix it man.  Of my 3 sons, the middle one is like Lynn, right in there working out all the kinks in lines, walls, windows, projects. diggin' in to "dig out."  On call, they both run to help the other 2 sons who have no interest in repair or building.  My youngest son has built many things at work, but when it comes to fixing things in his own life, he leans on his brother.  Some people are "mechanically" inclined and others must learn it or hire it done.

I think all of us should be able to do some basics, but it's great to know there are those more talented than I am with a hammer and nail, or a wrench and a pipe.

Trust me, you don't want to call me if the pipes are stopped up, or a light needs fixing.  But, since we now know you're highly skilled, I'm putting you on the call list!!  =))  loved it, Sixty, very nice.


sixtyorso profile image

sixtyorso 8 years ago from South Africa Author

Pam Glad I could share with you and I am pleased that you found some of my tips helpful. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.

Marisue, You are welcome, I will gladly go on to your call list, but I am far better at fixing computers these days. Your comments and the glimpses that I get of your life from your comments and hubs are always so interesting and readable. Once again, thanks for your support.


justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 8 years ago from Texas

I wish you lived here! You can bet I wouldn't complain if you were painting the house! :)


sixtyorso profile image

sixtyorso 8 years ago from South Africa Author

justmesuzanne sometimes I wish I lived there too! But I am sure you would prefer a twenty five year old with a great sixpack painting with his shirt off! LOL

Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. Much appreciated!


marisuewrites profile image

marisuewrites 8 years ago from USA

=)) we belong to a mutual admiration society.... I should write another hub about my life...you have inspired me...thank you for your interest! =))


sixtyorso profile image

sixtyorso 8 years ago from South Africa Author

Hi Marsue I guess so. Another about about your life would be great. Perhaps "funny moments in my life that were not funny at the time but on reflection were!" would not be a bad idea! LOL


justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 8 years ago from Texas

I don't care!  As long as the house gets painted and I don't have to climb a ladder! Paint covering all surfaces with the possible exception of windows is my definition of painted!


sixtyorso profile image

sixtyorso 8 years ago from South Africa Author

Justmesuzanne. Ok So you are just practical then! Go for it girl! LOL


Constant Walker profile image

Constant Walker 8 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

Good hub, Sixty. I laughed at the part about wives not thinking men can do DIY. That seems to be the popular belief. Television likes to perpetuate this belief with shows like "Everybody Loves Raymond."

I don't know about you, but I was annoyed as hell at how stupid and inept "Raymond" was portrayed, and at how nasty and insulting his wife was to him. I couldn't stand to watch that show. It gave marriage a bad name!


sixtyorso profile image

sixtyorso 8 years ago from South Africa Author

Aah CW that is simply life. Men are meant to take the slings and arrows. As Shakespeare himself said 'What serpent has a tongue sharper than a wenches wrath" Or some such (apologies to Will). Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


countrywomen profile image

countrywomen 8 years ago from Washington, USA

Why is it that wives never believe that you can do DIY? If they "did" then you would want them to join you...LOL


sixtyorso profile image

sixtyorso 8 years ago from South Africa Author

Hi CW No I think that is a ploy to get you to prove you can or you get to pay for a contractor to get the job done. Not too many of the ladies would offer to join in and be your assistant. If anyone has this kind of a symbiotic relationship. I say Lucky you!

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working