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S20 E34: Light Fixture, Finish Nailers

In this episode, Kevin O’Connor shares how he became the host of Ask This Old House, and Tom Silva shows a trick for drawing a perfect ellipse. Heath Eastman moves a light fixture, and Mauro Henrique patches the ceiling. Then, Nathan explains the basics of finish nailers.

Previous episode: S20 E33 | Next episode: S20 E35

In this episode:

Kevin O’Connor explains how he became the host of ASK and This Old House. With a bright future in finance, Kevin and his wife followed their love for old homes and purchased a fixer-upper. During the process, the two sent in a letter to This Old House about their home at the same time Ask This Old House was starting. A few weeks after the crew performed a house call at Kevin’s home, he received the job offer from the production crew, and the rest is history.

Next, master electrician, Heath Eastman takes us on a house call to help a homeowner move a light over their dining room table. After assessing the situation and getting some careful measurements, the two move the table, shut off the breaker and get to work moving the light fixture.

Heath and the homeowner get lucky, as they find there is plenty of wire to reach the new light location. They cut a hole, install a specially designed bracket, and wire up the new light fixture in the new location. The only issue is that they left behind a hole from the fixture’s original site.

Painting expert Mauro Henrique shows up to finish the job. After installing some strapping and a drywall patch, Mauro shows the homeowner how to match the repair with the existing textured ceiling.

After the ceiling repair, we meet carpenter Nathan Gilbert back at the tool lab to talk about nail guns. Nathan takes us through all of the most common finish nailers, from heavy-duty 15-gauge nailers to small headless 23-gauge pin nailers.

Finally, general contractor Tom Silva and host Kevin O’Connor meet back at the shop to discuss drawing ellipses. After showing Kevin a jig he built, Tom gives him a quick lesson on how to draw perfect ellipses with just two nails, a string, and a pencil.


How Kevin Became Host of Ask This Old House

Host Kevin O’Connor explains how he landed one of the most important jobs on the staff—without even trying.

How to Move a Light Fixture

Master electrician Heath Eastman helps a homeowner with an askew light fixture, centering it over their dining room table.

Where to find it?

Heath moves a kitchen ceiling light fixture 12-18 inches to center it over a kitchen table. He uses a small metal rod (about 16 inches long), pushes it through the ceiling, and bends it to a 90-degree angle, so there is about 2 inches of bent wire through the ceiling. Heath says by rotating the rod around 360 degrees without hitting anything, he knows he can freely work in that section of the ceiling.

Once Heath determines that the new location is free of obstacles, he drills a hole using a dust collector, and a 4-inch hole saw. After Heath detaches the fixture, he removes the old electrical box from the ceiling, freeing up the wire. After Heath installs the appropriate junction box and runs the wiring through it, he installs the new light fixture.


How to Patch a Hole in a Textured Ceiling

After some electrical work, This Old House paint expert Mauro Henrique helps a homeowner patch a hole left in a textured ceiling.


Tool Lab | How to Choose a Finish Nailer

Carpenter Nathan Gilbert explains everything you need to know about choosing a finish nailer for your trim and molding projects.

Where to find it?

When it comes to installing trim around windows, doors, baseboards, crown molding, assembling cabinet parts, or installing stair treads and risers, as you can see, one nail gun does not fit all. The most common and readily available types are 15 gauge, 16 gauge, 18 gauge, and 23 gauge. The difference between them is the gauge nail that they shoot. Nathan explains how to select a finish nailer and its standard features.


How to Draw an Ellipse with String

General Contractor Tom Silva shows host Kevin O’Connor an easy method for drawing accurate, smooth ellipses.

Where to find it?

Measure out your center line and place a nail at each end of the line leaving a little space outside. Wrap your string around the nails but stretch it up to where you want the top of the ellipse to be before securing the string to the nail. Using a notched pencil, set the string into the pencil notch, keep the pencil straight with tension on the string, and bring the pencil up and around to create your ellipse.

You can find all the materials at local home centers.

Original Air Date: June 30, 2022, Season 43; Ep. 34 23:42