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About Thumb and Hammer

Home improvements can be overwhelming, whether you do it yourself or pay to have it done for you. approaches home improvements honestly and realistically.  The mistakes, the head-scratching and the learning curve are all out in the open.

By sharing with you my experiences and what I have learned in my years as a homeowner I hope to either give you the confidence to tackle your own projects or help you recognize your limitations.  At the very least you can learn from my successes and my mistakes.

About me

My name is Doug and I am not an expert.  I am basically self-taught in most areas of home renovation.  I will be the first to admit that, for me, many projects have had a steep learning curve.  This is not a how-to site.  It is a how-I-did-it or how I-had-it-done site.  I have been a homeowner since 1996.  During that time I have been both a do-it-yourselfer and I have dealt with my share of contractors.  And I know first-hand the consequences of bad DIY after buying, in 2003, a money pit that was butchered by the previous owner.

I currently live in that money pit with my wife, whom I married in 1999, my daughter, who was born in 2002, and our two dogs somewhere in Ontario, Canada.  I started as a hobby site back in 2000, partially for the reasons stated above but also, I must admit, as a vanity site.  I never had a reason to pick up a hammer until I became a homeowner, so I wanted to show what a weekend handyman with no experience could accomplish.  It was a case of “if I can do it, anybody can” combined with “look what I can do.”  My “9 to 5” has nothing to do with any of this stuff….


{Unfortunately, The Wayback Machine was unable to save all graphics, but you get the idea}

August 6 2000:  Thumbandhammer goes online, hosted by Freeservers.

October 2000:  Thumbandhammer moves to Yahoo GeoCities.

screenshot 2001
2001: Geocities site. Screenshot from The Wayback Machine

Fall 2003:  Thumbandhammer goes “Dot.Com.” 

Site redesigned.

screenshot 2003
2003: Thumbandhammer went “dot-com”. First major re-design. Screenshot from The Wayback Machine


Entire site re-coded in valid XHTML and valid CSS.  Site refreshed.  Begin using WordPress for blogging platform.

screenshot 2008
2008 Screenshot from The Wayback Machine: Notice the “paid links” on the home page (cringe).

Fall 2009 to Summer 2010

Another major rewrite and redesign of the website from top to bottom.  Commissioned design of new mascot.  The DIY Guy character was designed by Jocelyn Ceniza whom I contacted through oDesk. Her personal website is Zyndtel Design.

screenshot 2010
2010: I never finished designing the home page.
screenshot 2011
2011: The most successful design. Mousing over the menu items on the left produced fly-out information boxes. Pretty cool (but not mobile-friendly). First use of the new mascot.

Summer 2012  

Migrated entire site to WordPress to simplify development and to offer mobile device compatibility as previous design was not mobile-friendly.

screenshot 2013
2012-2013: The site totally contained within WordPress. I was never satisfied with the design.

Summer 2013 

A serious problem with the website did not allow for any updates, prompting yet another major rewrite and redesign.  Between September 2013 and January 2014, photos were re-scanned or re-sampled and a lot of content was re-written and re-organized.  Every page and every post had to be copy and pasted from the existing site to the new site, a tedious process that occupied much of my spare time on weekends.  My “9 to 5” has nothing to do with this stuff either…. [Stats as of January 6, 2014:  150 blog posts, 50+ pages of content, over 400 photographs (not including stock images and other graphics]

screenshot 2014
2014: A work in progress…


The never-ending revision… Started with yet another design change, but beyond that over the next few years, when I had time, I worked through the entire content of the website deleting “thin content” and consolidating many posts. During the spring of 2020, at the height of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, I re-scanned all the old 35mm photos at a higher resolution, and revised and tweaked every post. I also overhauled the category structure to improve website navigation.

Personal Privacy Statement

I believe that authenticity and transparency are important. The information, experiences and personal anecdotes that I share on this website and its related properties are all true and honest.

However, I also believe that protecting my personal privacy is also important.

  • I respect the privacy of family (especially my wife and daughter), friends, neighbors and other individuals who I may mention.
  • Because we are dealing with illegal renovations done by the previous owner, there could be legal or civil ramifications for him or us if his identity is revealed either directly or indirectly.
  • I am very careful not to identify contractors or other professionals.  The only businesses I mention are chains or franchises and in those cases I only identify the parent companies.  I don’t want to jeopardize past or future relationships.  Contractors may be hesitant to work for someone who has publicly complained about them or other contractors in the past, even if they are not specifically named.
  • The previous point is a double-edge sword, since some contractors or businesses would go “above and beyond” for some positive buzz.
  • By not connecting my “real life” to my web presence, my content is more consistent with the experiences of an “average” homeowner.
  • Bottom line:  I place a high value my own privacy, especially in this day and age of the NSA, Google and Facebook….  Besides, providing my full name would not add value to my content.   In fact, I believe that maintaining a certain level of anonymity allows me to provide more authentic content because I am the only one influencing it.

So, please forgive me if I don’t give you my full name or exact location.  I suppose I could have used a pseudonym, but that felt unnatural.  Doug is indeed my real name and I want for us to be on a first name basis.  Thank-you for understanding.