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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Installing a Microwave Oven in 210 Days: Part 2

Our new microwave awaits.

In April, we discussed how to approach our problem.  When we had purchased the house, the previous owners had paid contractors to remodel their kitchen.  They had installed tile all along the bottom of the cupboards and the microwave.  As our new microwave was taller, this meant we either had to chip away tiles and set it lower, or find room up above.  Well, we had worked with wood before, but never with tile.  The way the old tile had been cut, we knew we would have to chip away a lot, then lay matching tile along the profile of the new microwave.  We weren’t sure that we wanted to spend our first tiling project attempting to replicate someone else’s work.  What if we couldn’t find an exact replacement tile?  What if we ended up needing to remove the cabinets anyway to remove or install tiles beneath them?  Soon May was upon us, and our upcoming trip to England beckoned.  We would get to the project when we returned, we vowed.

Earlier this year, a family member had died.  (See “Awake with Connie Willis and Amaryllis”).  As the service was a full day’s drive each way, we hadn’t been able to travel to her funeral.  A “Life Celebration” was scheduled for early July.  So yes, you guessed it: after we returned home from England…more traveling. 

A few weeks after that, we pulled out the oven and unhooked the gas line.  We studied the wall template, as well as the holes in the wall where the contractors had hung the previous frame.  We decided we would need to remove the oak trim from the shelf above, as after we hooked the microwave onto the frame's lower support tabs, the trim would get in the way of swinging the microwave up.  This involved using a square head drill bit, which we had previously bought at Home Depot, enlarging the pocket-hole area around the screw head with our Dremel rotary tool, and patience.  Then, to our delight, a little tapping with a hammer was all it took.  The finishing nails that had held on the trim also emerged nice and straight, so we could tap the trim back on later. 

After drilling holes in the wall for the new frame, we discovered that our stud-finder’s readings had been slightly off, and the left hand side of the frame would not sit in front of a stud after all.  This meant that we needed four toggle bolts.  The installation kit included three.  We had a few smaller ones at home, but wondered if they were strong enough.  As it was approaching noon, we decided to add Home Depot to our list of the day’s errands, and headed out.  Our first stop: lunch at our favorite burger joint.

It’s been several years since we attempted serious Do-It-Yourself (DIY).  Or, if you prefer, Doing-Yourself-In (DYI).  In that time we had forgotten some basic skills.  So that afternoon we made the mistake of letting the toggle portion go all the way through the wall before we tightened the bolts.  Thankfully, my wife figured out a slow way to rectify the problem.  We also used the template for the shelf to drill holes for the upper support bolts and the power cord.  Then we headed into the living room for our new microwave.

We carried it into the kitchen, squeezed it between the two cabinets, set it on the bottom support tabs, and swung it up.   The new microwave cried foul: its top rear corner jammed into the shelf above before it could reach the wall.  So, as we had feared, we would need to remove the shelf and position it higher.  Hopefully, this wouldn’t involve relocating the cabinet doors. 

By now, our energies were ebbing.  We removed the vertical supports between the ceiling and the shelf, but opted to remove the shelf tomorrow. 

Pushing the oven back in place and hooking it back up seemed like too much work.  So we went out and got a double-pepperoni pizza for dinner.  Life is hard.

Still to be continued,
Dragon Dave

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