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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Installing a Microwave Oven in 210 Days: Part 5

The shelf (finally) nears completion.

In the afternoon, we cut the additional ¼” of depth for the exhaust fan opening, then brought the shelf back inside, and secured it with a screw at each corner.  Then we picked up the microwave, slid it between the cabinets, and set it on the metal frame’s lower support tabs.  With a little fiddling, and a shove, the back of the microwave sat back against the wall.  Kneeling, my arms locked, I supported the microwave from below, tilting it up and down at my wife’s direction so she could double-check the drill locations for the upper support bolts and the power cord.  But she was having trouble peering in there and aligning the marks on the underside of the shelf with the holes in the top of the microwave, so we exchanged positions.  I also found it difficult to be certain, but as with the exhaust fan opening, the holes just didn’t seem to be lining up.  So I measured from the front of the shelf to each hole on top of the microwave, and marked new drill holes, this time on top of the shelf. 

Our new microwave oven might weigh half of what the old one did, but that didn’t mean it was light.  My wife was relieved when I concluded the measurements and we set the microwave back atop the stove.  We unscrewed the shelf, carried it back outside, and then reversed the template to match my new markings on top of the shelf.  Using these as a reference, we marked another hole for the power cord.  We also needed ¼” thick support blocks between the microwave and the shelf, so my wife drew those out on an old scrap of ¼” plywood.  I drilled all the holes in the shelf and the ¼” plywood, then cut out the blocks with the jigsaw.  We brought the board inside, set it on the brackets, and secured it with a screw at each corner.  Then, after a short rest, we lifted the microwave, set it on the frame’s lower support tabs, and tested the bolts and power cord hole.  It looked like everything would fit. 

Returning the microwave to the stove, we went to work installing the remaining screws up through the brackets and into the shelf.  We had guessed wrong with two of the brackets along the back, and so we didn’t bother with them, as they were set a little too low.  Still, even without those two, we decided that the others should do the job.  

At this point, I feel in need of support
as I install the upright support pieces.

The contractors had installed two boards vertically above the old shelf, presumably for support.  They had secured these with 1”x1” boards at top and bottom.  My wife pulled out the staples affixing each 1”x1” to the bottom of the boards, and measured the ¾” from the bottom.  I used my circular saw to reduce the height of each board.  We drilled new pilot holes and screwed on the bottom 1”x1” pieces.  Then we shoved these back up above the shelf, and I drilled and screwed in these vertical supports.  I tried to match up the boards with their previous locations, but by this time, I lacked the patience and focus.  I installed screws where I could best approximate the boards had been before. Because I didn’t drill new pilot holes, the shelf ended up bending down a little in the center.  Now it rested on the two brackets we had set just a little too low against the wall. 

Once more (hopefully one final time), we carried over the microwave.  Setting it on its support tabs, we pressed it back against the wall.  With the exhaust fan opening in position, I held on while my wife threaded the bolts down into the microwave.  I could feel it growing lighter as she tightened the bolts.  Finally, I was able to stand up, and let go of the microwave.  It was in!

My wife used tin snips to cut ¾” off the lower section of the exhaust tube.  Then she wrangled with the two pieces until she finally fit them together.  She pressed the 1”x2” Oak trim back into the shelf.  We didn’t think the cabinet doors would fit without readjustment, but when I handed her one, she reattached it, and to our surprise it closed.  She put on the other, and it fit also.  We can no longer pull the doors open from below, as the microwave’s added height leaves zero margin between the bottom of the doors and the top of the oven, but for the moment, that’s okay. 

Linda, Exhaust Tube Wrangler.

With our flagging strength, we reconnected the oven and heaved it back into place.  Earlier, we had considered celebrating the completion of our project with dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant.  But we felt as if we’d just gone ten rounds with George Foreman (with or without his grill), so we took a shower to freshen up, made nachos (using our new microwave to heat up our homemade refried beans), and collapsed on the sofa, where we enjoyed the second James Bond movie, “From Russia with Love,” with dinner.

The name’s Dave: D. I. Y. Dave.

Exhausted but contented,
Dragon Dave

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