Thursday, August 29, 2013

Corn Stickers

Corn Stickers

Corn stickers mounted on cabinet door.

Car key and house key. Notice the points aren't needle-sharp.

Car key and house key before cleaning the tips.

Vise Grips holding a key.

Vise Grips and keys.



 A few days ago I said I'd show you how to make some really neat corn stickers—those little deals you hold hot corn-on-the-cob with, so you don’t burn your fingers.
  Did you ever receive a car key in the mail? One sent by a car dealer? They used to send them out with regularity. The idea was for you to go to the dealership on the following weekend and try your key. If it cranked the brand new Cadillac or Grand Whatever they were trying to sell to you, it was yours to keep. You might be a winner! I always figured that out of 25,000 or so keys they sent out, my odds were pretty low. They weren’t high enough for me to waste a weekend day in a car lot listening to sales talks. I have no idea if anyone ever won one of those cars or not.
            I do know I kept the keys. I’m a hoarder of sorts, holding onto anything I feel I can one day use. I had four keys, still pristine, and all with rubberized hilts, making them easy to hold between your finger and thumb. They were nice keys, but had no function. I needed to give them a reason to exist. I did.
            I was sitting around trying to find a use for the keys, and at the same time we fixed some corn-on-the-cob. When I checked for corn stickers, I found out we had only one-and-a-half sets. We had three stickers, and all three were different. It’s a good thing we weren’t entertaining the Queen of England.
            An idea popped into my head—use the keys for corn stickers! I washed one of the keys and tried it as it was. It only dented the cob. It wasn’t sharp enough to pierce it. No problem. I sharpened the end of one of the keys on my grindstone and had a point in no time. I pushed it against the end of the cob and it slid in, easy as pie. With a little experimenting I realized the points didn’t need to be needle-sharp, either—just so-so sharp. In ten minutes I had two sets of corn stickers.
I examined the three corn stickers we’d bought at the store. One type had two needles, or nail-like stickers, and they shot right in the cob, too. But I also had one that was all plastic, with a twisty end that seemed too fat to pierce the cob. But it did. My point is (nice use of the word point, huh?) that you don’t need a real sharp point on these. This is a good thing. You don’t want your kids or grandkids screaming and bleeding as they try to use the unique corn stickers you made for them.
You can make these corn stickers without a grindstone. All you need is a good file and a vise to hold the key steady. If you don’t have a vise, a pair of Vise Grips will work. I tried all three methods, and one is as good as the other.
When I get an adequate point on the keys, I take the file and smooth the end, taking any burrs off. Then I hit it with some steel wool, and I’m done. I wanted several pairs of corn stickers, so I used some keys that didn’t have the rubberized hilts—house keys, for the most part. They work as well as the car keys.

I bought some inexpensive hook-hangers and mounted the corn stickers on the back of a cabinet door. I’ve included some photos to give you an idea of what I’m talking about. Now it’s your turn. Go ahead and do it—make some really neat corn stickers. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Prattville Decks.

    In the last five weeks we've built two decks, both in Prattville. One was cedar and the other Trex. Both are gorgeous.
    No one locally carries much cedar any more, like Mason Lumber used to do, but we were fortunate that Buck Mason's grandson, Mason Kocher, carries a good bit of cedar at Kocher Lumber, in downtown Montgomery. They had to order some 2x12 cedar, but had plenty of 2x6s and 2x8s, and all were of top quality. This deck has a handrail, and is several feet off the ground. Here are some pictures of the cedar deck.

The owner is going to stain and seal the cedar himself, and after he does, I'll take another shot. It's best to let the boards weather before staining, but you have to admit, the deck looks good just as it is.

    Below are some pictures of the Trex deck. Trex comes prefinished, so when we left the job, it was done. The pictures take you from the beginning--the batter boards--to the joist system, and on to the end product--the fascia applied to the sides.

    Pretty good looking, aren't they? And both of them--the cedar and the Trex, should last a long, long time. They cost more than a pressure-treated deck, but they also look nicer. Think about using Trex or cedar for your next deck.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Published nationally!

Hey, guys--I hate to stop any of you from reading the next post, but Earl was just published nationally in They took a re-write from his 500opinions blog, The Top 100 Bets Books Ever. Check it out!

For those of you having a hard time leaving comments--it is hard! here's the trick--you have to comment as "anonymous" if you don't have a g-mail blog yourself. Or something like that. Here's how: 1. Click on comment or no comment. 2. Enter your text in the window. Add your name if you want me to know who you are, and e-mail if I don't have it--in the window! 3. Select: comment as anonymous. 4. Select publish. Try that. If all else fails, e-mail me at Later!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Opening Up Some Walls To a Dining Room.

    Here are a few pictures of some work we did in Prattville, opening up a wall. Before we opened it up, there was only a door in each wall, opening into the dining room. The customer wanted the area to look larger and to be more relevant to a large number of people when they had large meals in the dining room. The columns are hand made, by us. We also worked the wood floor back in where it was missing under the old walls. It was a nice project and turned out looking great. The carpenters, painters, sheetrock-working, column-building men on this job were Kirk McKinley and Wesley McLain. You guys did a wonderful job. Amen! Uh . . . what's that freaky pic of me doing in here? The one down at the bottom? Must I try to be the center of attention everywhere? Sorry, Wesley and Kirk. I just can't help myself.

Saturday, August 17, 2013


Please don't forget to have a look at my other blogs: , where I unload my top 100 movies, TV shows, meals, and music on an unsuspecting public. It's pure opinion of the best kind. I'm not shy. And also have a gander at , where a young-adult novel will begin on Sunday, August 18th. Start reading now, for background info, and you'll enjoy the book more than you ever thought possible.
Comment! Criticize! Be nice!
    Thanks, Earl.

Caulks and caulking.

   The last thing I was talking about was caulking, so I need to finish, don't I? Use good caulk! That was my point. If you read the side of a tube of caulk, it'll say something like, "20 Years, Guaranteed," or "35 Yr. Durability," or "Five Years Guaranteed Mold Free." Okay. Sure, caulk will last 20-35 years, but where we live, especially those of you in Montgomery, where the soil goes up and down with regularity, simply lasting a long time isn't worth ten cents. If the caulk doesn't give and take, move around, stretch with the movement of your residence, then it will split, be prone to having holes in it, and not do you any good whatsoever. Water will run behind your brick moldings unchecked.
    The anti-mold guarantee isn't so hot, either. It'll say that "soap" etc., will cause the caulk to be moldy. Alabama mold can grow anywhere. It's one of our few great, home-grown products.
   The best caulking we've found for these problems is Sonolastic NP1. Architects recommend it all the time for doors and windows because it stretches so well and mold doesn't adhere to it as well as it does with most products. NP1 is also expensive--we pay from 5-8 bucks a tube. It's not sold everywhere, and it's very difficult to apply so that it looks nice. It's paintable, but comes in colors, if you can find them. We prefer finding a color that matches and using that, because you have to let it cure one week before you can paint it. The other problem is tooling it. The company says to dry-tool it, which is incredibly difficult. They also say to not tool it with soapy water. Well, tooling it with soapy water is the only way we've ever been able to make the stuff look good. I performed a test in my own bathroom, between my tub and the wall tile, using soapy water to tool it. The test strip is six years old and still adhering. It still looks like new. In fact, I'm going to get up and check on it right now. (I walk away). Yep. It's still pliant (I can stick my fingernail in it and there's no mark left behind), it's still the original color (gray), and the caulk and/or grout on both sides of it are moldy. The test strip is clean as a whistle. Uh-oh. I hope my wife doesn't see this blog.
    Therefore, I highly recommend this product. Just remember, if you try to use it, it's a difficult task. I can't advise you to tool it with your finger in soapy water like we do, because it's not advised, and the product is a cancer causer.
    What I do recommend is that you use one of the better latex caulks, either DAP or White Lightning. These are the ones we usually use on doors and windows because they';re easy to apply, paintable, and though more expensive than many caulks, are justifiable in the long run. It would be nice if you could use silicone caulking around your doors and windows, and you can, but few are easily paintable. You are stuck with whatever color you pick--either white or clear. Most people want the caulking around their doors and windows to be painted the same color as the door or window.
    You don't need soapy water to tool the latex caulks. A wet rag or finger works great. I stick my finger in my mouth all day when I'm caulking. I know--gross. But it's fast and it works, even though the tube says to wear gloves. Yeah. Right. What can I say? I can warn you not to use your finger to tool the caulk. Me? Well, I do have Parkinson's Disease, and I do think it was caused by working in construction, but not by caulking. That's another story I'll get to one day, just not right now.
    The main thing about your caulking is that you need to keep an eye on it. We do guarantee what we do, of course, but only for a year. There's a reason for that. If you live in Montgomery, your house will shift sooner or later, and the caulk will split. It's a fact. We can't guarantee caulk won't split, even if we use the NP1. It's gonna happen. The thing is, you need to catch it as soon as you can. It will need to be re-caulked, or at least touched up. You can do it yourself. Just be sure and use a GOOD CAULK.
    Enough about caulking. I'm getting a latexy taste in my mouth.
    Next I'm going to show you how to make corn stickers. Yep--those little do-dads that you stick in the ends of your corn-on-the-cob so you don't burn your fingers. You may think this is a strange blog to use to talk about corn stickers, but I plan to do some design stuff here, too. And the corn stickers I'm going to show you how to make are so pretty, so unique, you'll want to display them somewhere. You'll want to use them as a part of your home design. Trust me. Bye now.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Wow. I see now how blogging can eat up one's time. My problem is that it's eating up time I normally spend writing--meaning, writing fiction. I must write fiction, so will have to come back to these blogs later. I intend to discuss caulk when I return here. Real quick--the good guys: NP1, White Lightning, and DAP. There are others but these are ones I know and love. As a rule they apply with ease (okay, okay- NP1 never applies with ease) look good, and do the job. Spend the extra money and use good caulk. More when I can return.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

I'm back. Now, if I could only figure out how to bring the picture below me up, I'd be happy. I just wanted to show a couple of pictures of Wesley and Chris hard at work. Notice Chris's arms cradling his chin. I think he's inspecting Wesley's work for flaws. I hope so, anyway. This is a bathroom we did for Mrs. L., in Prattville. I feel better keeping her name semi-private. Where Wesley is crouching there was a garden tub under a window. We removed the tub and built a walk-in shower, then put glass block in the window. Mrs. L was worried people could see through the glass blocks until we made her test them by going outside at night. She tried to look inside and couldn't see a thing. The glass block are cemented in, too, so breaking through them would be more difficult than busting through any of the regular windows. We like using glass block. If you want me to get onto Chris for watching Wesley work, just give me the word. PS--we added three grab bars, but they didn't go up until later. We recommend grab bars everywhere. That's all for now. Earl.
I am now, officially, a blogger. I just posted my first blog in 500 Opinions, one of three blogs I'm going to try. This blog--Fisher Remodelers--is work-related, obviously. It's basically for my customers, but I plan to add little tidbits along the way for anyone who might be interested, on design, gardening, remodeling hints, etc. Yes! If you follow my directions, you can make your home as tacky as mine! All you have to do is pay attention. Ha-ha. I don't, of course, consider my home tacky, but I have the feeling many do. I consider it useful, or lived in. Take, for instance, all the bookshelves. There's at least one in every room--even the bathroom. I mean, after all, I majored in English Lit in college, and I've published two books, and my wife, Linda, has published two books--books are important to us, our focal point in life. Therefore, my house has tons of bookshelves. In fact, when I go inside other peoples' homes, if I don't see a bookshelf, if I don't look around and see any books or magazines, I consider the inhabitants to be deprived.
    I'm not, by the way, going to show you how to make or build bookshelves. My cabinet man, Doug Crouse, at Grady Alford Cabinets, is the man for that. I wish I could afford to have him build all my bookshelves, in fact. Some of mine are, um, rather tacky.
    Okay. Time to quit rambling in my thoughts and give you something practical. I'll start with something simple, something I've shared many times in my company newsletters, and in person--caulking. Yep--ya gotta caulk, folks. Over and over. Especially, around the front door, between the brick molding and the bricks. For those of you not from our area, we live in Alabama--Montgomery, Prattville, Millbrook, to be specific. We're fortunate to have nearby brick manufactures, making brick an inexpensive material for the exterior of our homes. When I first arrived in this area, thirty-some years ago, I was astounded at all the brick homes. I didn't like them, as a matter of fact. There were too many. Almost all of the homes were brick. They all looked alike, to me. Well, after living in this damp, humid, rainy climate all this time, there's only one exterior I'd choose for myself--brick. My home is brick. How many times have I had to repair, re-finish, or do anything to the brick exterior of my home in twenty-five years? None. Now that I'm no longer a young idiot, I love brick. But . . . ya gotta caulk it. You must caulk it where other products, such as doors or windows, meet with it.
    More in the next posting.