Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Pause That Refreshes

Well, I don't know how refreshing it was, but I had to take a day off yesterday from all things haunt related to get my little workshop space in order.

From the time I moved down into the basement (for some reason, my wife didn't appreciate sharing the dining room table with assorted zombies, groundbreakers, and other creepy things), I've had to share the space with a big, honkin' oil tank (oh, about 500 gallons or so). This cast iron (?) behemoth took up a good 20% of the space I worked in and while there was a shelf built over the top of it, it really crowded me out of a good work environment.

Fortunately, or something like that, two years ago my oil furnace broke and I decided to convert to gas heat...but I still had an oil tank in my workshop, and it had about 250 gallons worth of oil left in it. After tracking down someone willing to pump out the oil, high on my to-do list was to remove the tank from its place. Yesterday was that day.

It seemed like it would be such an easy task to accomplish. I convinced my cousin that "all" we had to do was cut it up into pieces, toss 'em in the back of my pickup, and cart 'em over to the scrap yard. Ah, innocence! If the oil smell was enough to knock you out running through six or so Sawz-all blades was infuriating. I finally made a trip to Home Depot and got a blade that was meant to cut through 1/2" think iron. It was like sawing through buttah when we got back.

So after three or hours of toil, sweat, cursing, and abrasions we finally got the tank cut into manageable pieces and did fill up the back of my truck. Amazing how much home heating oil actually stains your hands. I've been scraping and rubbing and washing my hands almost nonstop and it's almost off. And if anyone's interested, the old tank was worth $31.20 at the scrap yard.

One upside to all this was that I found this really amazing product at the Depot designed to absorb oil spills. I had bought two big 40 or 50 lb. bags of an absorbent product at Walmart ($3.88 each!) that resembles kitty litter and the it did a great job of soaking up the residue that was left behind. I got two smaller 5 lb. bags ($3.99 each) at Sears Hardware to get the remains of the stuff the Walmart product didn't get (and a box fan to help get rid of the odor)...and still had to go to Home Depot (for those blades) and found this other type of Absorb-all. It was like a fine, white powder and I wondered how it was going to do anything. Well I was surprised because it did better than all the others combined.

The bag says 3 lbs. is like 45 lbs. of the other stuff and I believe it! It dried out the inside of the tank before we cut it up and got rid of some of the small drops that were left behind. Oil can work its way into concrete and you'll have a heckuva time getting rid of the smell. I'm convinced this powered absorbent is the reason my basement has no smell now.

It also does a great job of removing oil stains from woodwork AND it helped remove Great Stuff from my hands. Anyone who's worked with Great Stuff knows you want to avoid at all costs getting that stuff on your skin. It will stick to you and just about short of using a belt sander is needed to remove it.

In repairing the wall where the fill pipes had been located, I squirted some Great Stuff into the cavity in preparation for patching it up later with cement, but ended up getting it on my hands. I went to the bag of absorbent power, plunged my hands in, and rubbed them together. The Great Stuff was gone!

Short story long, I now had plenty of space in my workshop to actually work there. I scored a set of old kitchen cabinets off a Yahoo Groups site called Freecycle and installed the base cabinets and a set of small upper cabinets today. I'll pick up some 3/4" plywood soon and I'll make a bench top for the work area.

To celebrate my day off yesterday, I worked for a little while today on a pair of skeleton hands I've been experimenting with. I made the individual finger bones out of paper clay, inserted wire into them, and bent them into shape. I made a palm out of rigid insulation and hot glued it together.

Now that I've got more room in my workshop, I look forward to filling it with zombies and ground breakers.


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