Home Tech

The magic of 3 and 4 way switches

Our front hall light has three switches, downstairs, upstairs and on the landing by the front door. I finally got tired of having to run up and down the stairs to adjust the dimmer so this weekend up replaced the three rocker switches with some smarter components which allow me to adjust the light level from any of the three switches, no more running up and down stairs. Ah… laziness is such a great motivator.

Four way light switch

Replacing light switches is generally pretty simple… but replacing a four-way circuit was something new to me. A key thing to understand: the number in “3” and “4”-way switches has nothing to do with the number of light switches, it has to do with the number of switched wires. In my entryway I have three light switches… the circuit is, however, made up of two 3-way switches and one 4-way switch. I wasn’t quite sure what makes a four-way circuit work but thankfully came across an excellent animation by Rick Mathews which completely demystified 4-way switches.

So, a bit of studying on the internet, a bit of wiring, a bit of testing, a bit of finding the lights don’t work and a bit more wiring… I’m now a happy, lazy nerd.

Light switches

Home Idle

A Productive Weekend

At around 8 tonight (which should have felt like 7 due to the time change) exhaustion set in. I didn’t really feel like I should be all that tired but looking back on what I got done the fatigue feels a bit more justified.

It all started with building a shelf top and then kind of snowballed…

When we tore out and replaced our patio we put in a hot/cold hose faucet for washing the dog (yes, it’s totally worth it, no more muddy greyhound coming through the house). In order to make sure the tap doesn’t freeze in the winter the pipes have to extend 16″ into the house… but our wall is on 12″ thick. To disguise the intruding pipes we found a cool looking deco-style doorbell cover at a local architectural salvage yard. I’ve had the cover mounted on my wall for over a year now and always intended to build a shelf to go on top. This weekend I finally finished the shelf (and Finney approves).

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Saturday morning I woke around 6 and needed to occupy myself so I popped down to Home Depot and picked up some wood for the shelf. Once I cut down the stock, mitered the trim and glued it all together I sanded and prepped the chime box to get it ready for paint. The sanding went quickly, however, and I was now forced to sit and wait while the glue dried.



Never one to be happy waiting I decided it was a good time to experiment with cutting down some Ikea cabinet doors we picked up at their parking lot sale.

The desk I built for my office was intended to have doors and drawers, but I never made it past just building and finishing the outer cabinets. We purchased the surplus doors from Ikea to use on my desk… a little over a year later and the first door has finally made it onto my desk.


I already had purchased a set of hinges to try out, but I didn’t think to buy any sort of stop or catch for the door. This provided me with my next project opportunity: interior shelves for my desk. Thanks to some left over melamine shelves I was able to knock another thing off my hit list (and The King approves).


By the time Sunday morning rolled around the glue on my shelf had set up nicely and after a little light sanding it was time for a coat of primer. Primer has to dry too, nuts. What else is there?

When we replaced our garage doors in 2008 the installer just ran the wire on the outside of the wall. At the time I was good with them not trying to cut into our drywall but it always bugged me the way the wires looked. While the primer dried I did a little rewiring. Garage door openers now look professionally installed (or it will… once I finish painting the wall).


The shelf still needed painting and painting meant more drying time… but the weekend was winding down so while the paint dried I busied myself by putting away all the toys I got out this weekend, the majority of which were occupying Paula’s parking space in the garage.

Building the shelf led to making a desk door which led to making a desk shelf which led to rewiring my garage door which led to one thoroughly exhausted Reeves.

Home Idle

That’s going to leave a mark

Paula and I spent the day in the garden, pulling weeds, putting down landscaping cloth and covering the whole thing with mulch. The result is tremendously satisfying. It was, however, an all-day affair and I’m sure I’ll feel it in the morning.
Here’s a snap of the back yard. I’ll take a picture of the front tomorrow morning… provided I’m still able to lift my arms.
Picture of garden
Cleaned out the weeds, added ground cover.




Here’s where I pat myself in the back

Weekend’s done, was i productive? I wasn’t feeling productive… but upon review,

Finished the screen for our trash bins

Finished my workbench

Trimmed the garage door

And cleaned out the garage.

I also managed to spend some of Ben’s money… but that was fun and doesn’t really count as work.