Demolishing an Apartment Complex

For wasps, that is.

We inherited this junky old shed with the property. The doors were broken, it looked like someone backed into it, and maybe a branch had fallen on top.

When we first toured the property, it was filled with a bunch of old tires and other junk, most of which was hauled away before closing. We never planned on using it for storage, because the property has a lot of outbuilding space, and we can’t lock up the shed. The roofing screws had plastic washers, which had degraded in the sunlight and sprung a few leaks.

Taking it apart was a challenge, mostly due to the wasps that called it home. When I first came up to it around 9am, the shed looked empty. As I worked on unscrewing the panels, I noticed one hanging out around a nest. I would grab the wasp spray, kill them, and avoid the inside of the shed for a bit since the spray is nasty stuff. I was moving along in the roof disassembly when I saw three in a corner, looking like they had just popped out. My guess is that either the noise or the remaining aerosol had irritated them into emerging.

The other fun part of this is that the roof is pretty heavy, and has a few points where one person would need to hold a nut while the other would unscrew the bolt. This would stick one person hanging out in the spray with some upset wasps. I was able to get most of those difficult bolts out by angling the bolt with a flathead, and the ventilation was less of an issue as I removed roof panels.

There was also a sawzall, if all else failed.

Here’s the end result, looking like the big bad wolf came through:

The sawzall would have been quicker, but doing this over four hours meant that I have a lot of extra material to use. The corrugated sheet metal can be used for roofing our chicken and rabbit hutches, and most of the usable stuff was on the sides. With the weight of the roof, all those side panels would probably crunch up if I hadn’t removed the roof panels and beams. Those beams will probably make good project metal. The 8’x10′ base of this thing is also very heavy, and might make a nice base for a walk-in chicken coop/pen.

I did toss some of the metal panels above our raised garden yesterday, as we had a decent hailstorm.

Tabletop to Desktop

We’re turning a drop-leaf dining table into wall-mounted desk space. The following are parts of a wobbly 54″ square table that has a couple 18″ halves. Here’s the progress so far.

It was a good table for having guests around, as it could seat eight people comfortably. It made it through a couple moves, but every time it was extended to move the leaf or even bumped up against, the bolts on the legs would eat up the wood inside the legs. The surface was also pretty scuffed, and the extension was getting tougher to get going. We’re planning on building a long “farmhouse” table that will fit our new dining room later.

Originally, I was going to get a long butcher-block slab to make into the desk, but I wasn’t sure how to support it. When I pulled this thing out of our storage unit, I realized how solid the tabletop is. The stamp underneath it says it was made in Malaysia, so this might be rubberwood? The tabletop will also stand around 29 inches high, which is great for a desk. We went to Atwoods on Saturday morning and I picked up some paint stripper, then spent the afternoon on taking off the scratched-up varnish from the tabletop.

This was the first time that I’d had the two halves separated, so I carried the upstairs to our study, and they fit nicely up against a window with a gap between the two. We’ll be looking for a filing cabinet or something to fill that gap.


While taking those apart, I was also letting a sample strip outside. The reviews I’d read after buying the solvent were…pretty bad. But luckily, where this stuff fails to remove paint, it’s decent at removing old Malaysian varnish. So I set up a table outside the shop and slathered the stuff on a tabletop halves with a cheap paintbrush. For both halves, the varnish scraped off quickly, but there were a few spots that needed multiple passes.

The still-varnished table leaf is on the left, alongside the two desktops.

They turned out pretty nice. The edges may need a bit more work, but the grain pops out of the top, and overall the desktops have a bit more character than the block-style slabs I was going to buy.

Next up, I’ll be figuring out how to finish the apron/drawer assembly. The legs will be painted in a “shabby chic” style, and it may look better to have everything else uniformly-painted.

That’s all on the desk for now. I’ll update later with shed teardown notes, and I’ll post a bit more as the desk progresses.

Actually, Hello World

Well, wow. It’s 2020, and I’m making another attempt at starting a regular blog. It’s a weird thing to do, since most blogs have died off. There was a period of time (mid-2000’s) where it was the thing to do, and we all had RSS feeds and readers. We didn’t have much social media, and it would end up as a landing page for our online personas. There were forums and comment sections, and people would jump between them for online dialogue. And if you could get a good blog following, that was really something.

Now, of course, everyone’s on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, whatever…and those communities all fall short of being a good experience. I really only participate in Facebook, and it ends up being depressing to see some of the opinions posted on there. Twitter’s a cesspool, and I never fell into Instagram. But blogging as a teenager? That was fun, and maybe blogging can be worthwhile again.

I first registered this domain, pragmaddux.com, to post highlights in my engineering career. Personal goals change, and I stopped at the two-year degree. It still works, though. I like to plan, think practically, and make things make sense. The old blog saw its last post about four years ago, so I deleted everything to start fresh.

This is all a month into the COVID-19 shutdown, and the world is a bit more chaotic than we’ve seen before. For a lot of people, we’ve been in freefall for a while, and we’re grasping at whatever we can find along the way. I’m proud of a lot of family members, friends and coworkers (past and present), but I have no idea what to offer anyone. It’s hard to tell what will stick around.

So here I am, starting/restarting a blog. Maybe some of my knowledge will help others. Or maybe even entertain. Only one way to find out.