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  • Michael Krakovskiy 5:57 am on August 30, 2004 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: depth control/snap-off tool, depth tool, depth/snap-off tool, , , , , , Klingon device, , , Metalworking hand tools, Michael Learned, Parquetry, Pilot hole, sci-fi author, , , Vise,   

    WML : Mr. Squeek No More 

    Here’s yet another edition of WML – What Michael Learned. And the subject of today’s post is one of the things that I hate as much as I love hardwood parquet floors – squeaks. In SAT-speak I am somewhat corpulent and nocturnal. And a sonorous squeak of a parquet floor in the dead of the night is not one of my favorite sounds. I am certainly not one of those people who think that squeakiness adds character to an old floor.

    A few years ago I searched for a way to repair squeaky floors and kept finding advice for those who could access the floor from below – in cases of houses with basements that expose the underside of the upper floors. Then recently I found a solution in an episode of Ask This Old House that works for me. It is marketed as “Squeeeeek No More“. That’s right – 5 e’s. Luckily Google suggests the “correct” spelling even if you use less e’s.

    I bought my kit over here. It came with 50 snap-off screws, a square driver bit, a special stud finder screw (he heh) and a depth control/snap-off tool that looks like a Klingon weapon or instrument of torture.

    Here’s how it works :

    First of all you shoo away the cat (7). Then you need to find a parquet plank that squeaks. You do that by first finding the general location of the squeek and then with your foot sideways pressing on individual planks. Usually it’s only one or two loose planks that generate the noise when they move. Each one of the planks is nailed individually and it’s the nails that make the sound . You don’t need to worry about finding a stud – just drill a few pilot holes (so that the wood won’t split). Then using the square driver bit (1) you drive the screw (2) a few turns into the pilot hole. Then you drop a depth tool (3) over the top of the screw and continue driving the screw into the floor with the driver bit. The driver bit has a fat section at the bottom which will prevent it from driving the screw further than necessary when used with the depth tool.Then you use a T-shaped hole in the depth tool to gently break off the head of the screw (2a) by rocking it side to side. The screw will break off under the surface of the wood leaving a small hole (5) and (6) in the floor that can be filled in with wood repair sticks.

    I found that it takes about three to five screws per squeaky plank. The Klingon device is not really necessary for parquet floors without carpets.  The screw breaks easily with the tool, and doesn’t when you screw it in. It would be a good idea to practice on some scrap wood (which I didn’t do of course), but I’ve had no accidental snapoffs so far. It would become a problem if the screw would break off above the surface. I guess the best way to fix that would be to pound the crew in with a nail set (which is not an easy matter for sure).  If you do not predrill the hole a split in the plank would not be an easy fix as well. On the plus side, the holes are not very visible even unfilled. I guess the best time to do this fix would be right before floor refinishing.

    There is a cheaper version of the kit marketed as “Countersnap“, which seems to be exactly the same thing, except the depth/snap-off tool that comes with it can’t be used on carpets. Actually I think that’s the one I’ve seen Tommy use on Ask TOH.

    Of course this system will not work for people with radiant floor heating, pipes and electric wires that run under the floor, super expensive museum quality floors with highly polished astronomical mirror grade finishes and landlords who do not allow driving screws into the wooden floors no matter how squeaky you or the floor gets.

    Oh, right. 50 deadprogrammerTM points to the reader who can tell me the sci-fi author who inspired the title.

  • Michael Krakovskiy 11:19 am on March 7, 2003 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Michael Learned, Michael Wants, , ,   

    Michael and Friends 

    The number of ljusers who added me to their friends list has reached 100. There are probably some more people who read me through “friends of friends” newsfeeds and non-lj aggregators (I think I saw a poll answer from and somewhere). And I bet there are some inactive ljusers who still have me added. Nevertheless, it’s a nice round number. Woohooo!

    I think the number of friends would be much larger for me if I automatically added those, who added me. That is probably true in real life as well. I should know – I am down to only two close friends who keep in touch with me right now. One of them is my dentist ( a childhood friend). In fact, I am typing this on my laptop while in his waiting room. The rest don’t call me unless I call them, lost contact with me altogether or got married to people I can’t stand and became too much like them. None of my real life friends (except my wife) read my journal.

    In any case, now that there are more people reading me, I am going to try to use them as information resource. I could do that on Usenet but posting to Usenet is a pain in the ass for a variety of reasons. Google answers costs money (although I think about trying that). So I in addition to wildly informative and awesome WML (What Michael Learned) type posts I am adding a mildly annoying WMW (What Michael Wants (to know)) category. Stay tuned.

  • Michael Krakovskiy 9:19 am on November 6, 2002 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , manager in your local supermarket, Marine aquarium, Michael Learned, , , ,   

    WML: the Arch-Importance of Buckets and Lightbulbs 

    Hello, and welcome to the first edition of WML: What Michael Learned!

    Today’s topic: aquariums. I am not going to talk here about not listening to the guy in the pet shop, about “cycling” the aquarium before adding the fish, about not overstocking the aquarium and overfeeding the fish. Everybody knows that, right? Well, I hope so.

    What I am going to talk about two common problems.

    Problem number A: water changes are hard.

    Get a good big bucket. A 5-gallon bucket is perfect. First of all, you will know how many gallons there are in it. Unlike that tiny bucket you got in a drugstore, you will know it’s volume, so it will help you dose salt, chlorine remover, bacteria culture and medicine. Also you will make fewer trips to pour out and bring in new water.

    Where to get a good bucket like that? I’ve got mine at my tackle shop, Bernie’s. It cost me $3. You can probably get it for free if you ask a manager in your local supermarket, but make sure that it held nothing toxic before.

    Problem number B: Aquarium plants die.

    If it’s not the fishes that do the dirty deed, it’s probably your lighting fixture. The one that came with your aquarium hood is crap. Go out and buy a new lamp, but leave the hood itself. What you need is a full spectrum, natural light fixture. I use Coralife Marine Aquarium 50/50 Daylight Bulb and it works like a charm, even though my aquarium is freshwater.

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