Author Archives: Matt Gradwohl

About Matt Gradwohl

@uppercutwood

Helping Families Make Their Homes Safe and Secure

This might not seem like a woodworking related post, but I think for many woodworkers, this would be a good way to provide a useful service, use their skills, and make some money.

My wife and I have a friend who lives alone with her children. They recently moved into a nice neighborhood, and she asked for help making sure her home was safe and secure. I looked online and asked a friend who is a police officer for tips on what to do. After looking at that list I realized that some homeowners would have a tough time getting through that list on their own. If they were to hire out the work, they’d need to hire a few different companies and that would be expensive.

The To-Do List

Physical Security of the Property

  1. Reset the garage door openers to disable all existing transmitters, and get owner transmitters working. This ensures any previous occupant is locked out.
  2. Replace all locks in the house with new deadbolts that are keyed the same. When the door has a sidelight, require a key on the inside and outside of the lock.
  3. Add peepholes to exterior doors.
  4. Add chain latches to exterior doors.
  5. Cut 1″ dowels to length for all sliding windows and sliding doors.
  6. Make sure all outdoor landscaping doesn’t facilitate break-ins.
  7. Make sure outdoor lighting is adequate and on timers or motion detectors.
  8. Repair fences and gates.

Interior Safety

  1. Secure tall furniture with anti-tip straps.
  2. Bolt down a safe to secure valuables, important documents, firearms.
  3. Check the water heater temperature.
  4. Show the owner how to shut off electricity, gas, water.

Electronics

  1. Reset WiFi access codes, computer passwords, email passwords, etc. to lock out former occupants.
  2. Reset alarm codes to lock out former occupants.
  3. Reset the pass-phrase used when on the phone with the alarm company.
  4. Change voice-mail passwords and cellphone pass-codes.
  5. Replace all smoke and Carbon Monoxide alarm batteries.

Getting the Right List

This is a good start and if hired out separately would require a handyman, computer tech, landscaper, electrician, locksmith….

Many local police departments will do a walk-through make additional recommendations, so there are likely other things to do. Alarm companies also have good information about ways to secure the home. It’s best if you don’t position yourself as a security expert, get the recommendations from the police department and/or alarm company and then go through the list with the homeowner. Position yourself as the best person to do the work on the list. There may be jobs that even you don’t want to do or shouldn’t do, and should be hired out, like trimming the landscaping or inspecting and repairing chimneys – no thanks!

When is this Service Needed

  • Moving into a home, especially if that home had previous owners
  • After a room-mate moves out
  • After a divorce or separation

It’s a good idea to go through a home security checklist periodically even if you’ve lived in your home for a while. For example: if your smoke alarms went off in the middle of the night and your family evacuated your home, does everyone know where to meet? Does everyone in the home know to keep their keys, checkbooks, garage door openers, etc. in a secure place in the home?

Put Your Skills to Good Use

Most woodworkers I know have skills in doing Long Fence Patios, and would do a great job doing this type of work. The doors may need new mortises and holes for the deadbolt locks and peepholes. The doors I worked on were not in good shape and needed some stripped holes repaired so that screws would tighten securely. Window dowels would be nicer if sanded, spray lacquered, and capped (I found 1″ oak dowel with 1″ white plastic end caps at the big box store). There are lots of things to do and that could overwhelm a new owner.

Tell Me What You Think

For our friend, I did this for free. But what if in your community you offered this as a service? What else would you add to the list? Would you see this as a valuable service that could make a customer happy and make you some extra money?

Ye Olde Woodchat YouTube Archives

Woodchat is a great thing. It just isn’t a great thing I’m spending much time on anymore. I still love it, I just don’t have the time or energy for it right now. Creating content that is compelling every week is hard, and the content was getting less compelling (for me anyway). Perhaps someday it will be reborn. There is a lot of great content out there, and lots of newer faces who are dedicating a lot more time and resources to creating videos. I want time in the shop!

Many thanks to all the help from Chris Wong and Scott Meek. Don’t forget Chris’ great Woodchat page.

For now, enjoy the Woodchat Archives that I’ve spent some time organizing.

Hayden Renews her Holzapfel Workbench Top

Workbenches are meant for work. They get dirty, stained, and tell stories with the drips and drops of finish and glue. Hayden’s workbench also tells stories: of painting with chalk by rubbing her project with chalk, then wetting them with water; glue drips; glitter from school projects; and other things an almost-eight year-old woodworker would do.

Clear versus Clean

In the shop last weekend she wanted to work on some projects. He bench was covered in tools and scraps, and I told her she couldn’t start a new project until her bench was clear. So she diligently put tools away and when her bench was clear she decided it wasn’t clean enough. I told her we could make the benchtop as good as new with some sanding and some oil.

She thought that was a great idea.

Sanding the Holzapfel

Here she is sanding the bench with the Bosch ROS. The dust collection on this sander is great, and we had fans going. I did most of the sanding while she ran in to change her clothes.

Oiling the Holzapfel

After sanding and clearing away the dust, two coats of Watco Danish Oil do the trick. We used gloves, had the door open and fans on, and disposed of the rags properly.

Now, if I can just get her to clear off my bench.