Middle Mouse Button Gone Missing

As with many things in life you do not realize how much you rely on something until it is gone. And so it is with my middle mouse button. Almost all mice have a scroll wheel that also serves as a button if you click it. In most web browsers that middle button click will open a link in a new tab or close a tab.

We have been using Logitech M325 wireless mouse at home for a number of years with no issues until a few weeks ago. It was as if my middle button click had died.

 I made sure I had the latest driver. I dug through the settings in Logitech’s SetPoint software. Nothing. I finally settled on installing the Right Click Opens Link New Tab Correct Order Chrome extension. There is one for Firefox too. That worked alright, but then I could not access the context menu for any links because my right-click event was being intercepted and opening a new tab instead.

I had been using a Logitech M510 wireless mouse at work for about 18 months with no issues until a few days ago. You guessed it, the middle button click was no longer working. I needed revisited my earlier solution with the mouse at home. There had to be a better way.

I found all sorts of information addressing this issue from a software settings perspective. However, I had a hunch that this was a mechanical issue and the button was just worn out. This Mouse Event Test Page help me confirm when clicking the wheel (on both mice) was not registering an event so there was no action to take.

I knew I could redefine the functionality of the mouse button with SetPoint, but I did not initially know exactly what I needed to do. I decide I could live without the “Back” function of the left-tilt of the mouse wheel. Instead I set it to behave as the “Middle Button” and just like that I was back to opening links in new tabs.


Fireplace Refresh

The green faux marble tile around our fireplace was in dire need of an update. We had put it off because we were not sure exactly what we wanted and the fireplace did not work.

On cold weekend last February we decided it was time to figure this out so we started demolition even though we had not fully decided what we wanted in its place. We knew wanted a different mantle so I was not careful in dismantling it. While things were torn apart I thought it was a good time to get the fireplace fixed. I contacted Zoom Fix and for less than $300 we got a thorough cleaned and working fireplace.

We went shopping for tile at a few local home improvement stores and found some we liked well enough, but none really stood out. Next we ventured to a flooring store which had many more options. We saw some 3″ hexagon Carrara marble that grabbed our attention as did the price. Either we needed to adjust our expectations or our budget. We headed home to think it over.

I assumed that buying tile online would be prohibitive due to the shipping costs. However, we were able to find the same tile (or close enough) for significantly less than at the flooring store. And more importantly within our budget. We ordered samples from two different companies and decided to go with these.

For the mantle we settled on a floating mantle shelf and ordered this one from Hayneedle. That seemed like a good idea until it arrived. Damaged.

It simply did not have enough protective packaging. We contacted their customer service and sent it back. A replacement arrived within about 10 days. Also damaged due to not enough protective packaging. I would expect a company sells and ships heavier items would have this perfected. Not Hayneedle. We sent it back again and this time requested a refund. It was time to build my own mantle.

I was able to find some furniture grade 1″ x 8″ x 8′ mahogany boards on sale. Along with other necessary supplies the total cost was about $80 (just over $100 less than the mantle from Hayneedle).

I used a table saw to set the edge for rabbet joint where the top and bottom meet the front and sides. I then removed the excess with a straight cut bit in my router. I cut the miter joint where the front meets the sides with my compound miter saw. I glued and clamped it all together using a few brad nails to hold things in place while the glue set up.

I ripped a 2″ x 6″ to the proper width to serve as a ledger board and mounted it to the wall with 4″ lag screws into the studs. The final step for the mantel was to secure it to the ledger board. I drilled three pilot holes for screws on the top and on the bottom to prevent splitting the mantle since these holes were relatively close to the edge. I used brass or gold colored screws to make them less noticeable. I was a little concerned with how solid this would be. Not to worry. It is sturdy!

Finally, we were ready for the tile. I had never installed tile before. And of course, we chose these complicated hexagon tiles.

We got busy with other projects and activities and kept putting off installing the tile. I finally got around to buying/borrowing the needed tools and supplies and we were ready. I found this really helpful blog post on HOW TO INSTALL A MARBLE HEXAGON TILE BACKSPLASH. However, as I thought through all the cuts I would need to make I began to have second thoughts about doing this myself. When my wife suggested we contact a tile contractor a friend had just used I immediately agreed.

I gave the recommended contractor a call on a Saturday. We traded a few texts and on Monday morning he called to say he had a cancellation and could come later that morning. We agreed on a price for the job on the phone. I talked to my boss about switching some time off I already had scheduled and headed home. Four hours later the tile was set.

About 10 days later the contractor came back to grout the tile which took less than an hour. While I had intended to do this project entirely on my own I am so glad we hired this done. There were numerous things he knew to do from experience such as laying the tiles on the floor first to get the proper spacing from the fireplace. Hiring a professional led to significantly less stress and marital tension. And an outstanding result!

A Shade Too Big

We have not had any sort of permanent window covering on our southwest facing kitchen sink window since we had moved into our current house 6.5 years ago. When the sun got to be too much of an issue my wife hung a small tablecloth over a spring-loaded curtain rod and that was good enough.

It seemed there was always something higher on the budget priority list. A few weeks ago we decided to go look at our local home improvement store to see what they had to offer. We weren’t finding anything that we liked from both an aesthetic and cost perspective. We were about to leave when we saw some bamboo roll-up shades on clearance for about $25. Not exactly the look we wanted, but the price made up for it.

Unfortunately, they did not have the width we needed and this was not the type of shade they would cut to length. However, I could cut it with my compound miter saw. For $20 we decided to take a chance.

I wrapped the shade in masking tape in an attempt to limit splintering. I did get some, but nothing too serious. We like how it turned out.


Slow Running Faucet

The faucet in one of our bathrooms has run slower than normal since we have lived in this house (6.5 years). The hot water was usable, but the cold would trickle to nothing after a few seconds. The pressure at the bathtub and toilet were fine. I thought I might have to open up the wall or at minimum install new faucet. Since this bathroom does not get used all that much I just put it off.

Today I decided to disconnect the cold supply line to see if I could decipher the issue. When I opened the valve the water that came out was initially quite brown at first, but it cleared up and the pressure was good. Initially, I thought the discoloration was rust.

I removed the faucet and took it apart in order to clean out any debris. I found a lot more of what I thought was rust. Upon closer inspection it was clear it was not rust, but what were these little amber beads I scooped out from within the faucet?


My son did some basic searching on-line and determined they were water softener resin beads. When we had moved in the water softener was not working so we just removed it. We just had a new one installed about a year ago. Whenever the previous water softener had failed it must have released some of its resin beads into our plumbing system.

If you are finding these beads and/or have water pressure issues it would be a good idea to check out your water softener to make sure it is functioning properly. You may even need to have the resin beads flushed out of your pipes.

After getting all of the resin beads out of the faucet I reinstalled it and the pressure is as it should be. No need to open up the wall. No new faucet. That is truly a frugal fix.


Windshield Chip Repair

Windshield chips are bound to happen. To make matters worse a couple of miles of highway we travel multiple times per day recently got resurfaced with a chip seal treatment. It is nice in the end, but there is a lot of loose rock while it is being applied.

We ended up with two significant chips on the windshield of the car our son drives. I had a local windshield repair shop repair them. They charged $40 for the first repair and gave me a discount on the second one for a total of $65.

This weekend my wife came home with a new chip in the windshield of the vehicle she drives. We had just replaced that windshield 18 months ago due to a chip that grew to a crack that spanned all the way across. We didn’t want that to happen again.


I had contemplated buying a windshield repair kit when getting a chip before, but had always shied away. I watched the following video to get a sense for the effort and time involved as well is if it worked or not.

I was able to find the Rain – X Windshield Repair Kit mentioned in the video at Wal-Mart for $11. The instructions were clear. The process was fairly easy and only took about 20 minutes. Since it is around 20 degrees today I did warm up with windshield with some indirect heat using a heat lamp. One thing to note is the instructions mention parking the vehicle in the sun for the product to cure. The reason for this is not the temperature, but the UV light.


Keep in mind the goal here is not to make the chip disappear, but rather to minimize it and keep it from spreading. I think it turned out pretty well. What do you think?

What a Drag!

A few weeks ago I helped my wife’s uncle clean up some scrap iron on his farm. We hauled most of it to a local junk dealer. He kept some with a future use or repair in mind. I claimed this iron drag thinking I could piece together enough good parts to use it to  pull behind my lawn tractor to aerate my lawn. I had also grabbed about 20 feet of cable that I planned to use to pull it.


I replaced replaced the bent, missing, and worn teeth with the good ones from the extra bars. I also replace two bent bars with extra straight ones I had found and sledgehammered a third one straight. Using cut-off grinder and a bolt cutter borrowed from a neighbor and about $10 worth of cable clamps, bolts, washers, and nuts it was ready to put to work.

The teeth were worn all in the same direction. When I pulled it with the smooth edge forward it didn’t seem to do much. So I hooked it up in the opposite direction with the sharp edge forward. That seemed to work well enough except stopping me cold going uphill. And I have a relatively hilly lot. In the end I decided that it wasn’t going to work out for me.

I posted it on Facebook and Craigslist for $25. Given the response, I could have asked for more. I got 9 messages on Facebook, one email via Craigslist, and a text from a personal friend. However, I prefer to price things to move. I enjoyed the project and made $15. Good deal for me and the buyer.


Replacing CV Axles

Our 2003 Audi A6 Quattro had developed a clicking noise coming from the front passenger wheel area while turning. That is a symptom of the CV joint becoming a problem. I inspected the CV boot and it was completely broken open. At the recommendation of a friend I decided to replace the entire CV axle on both sides.

I did my standard YouTube research and found this video suggesting this was not too difficult of a repair. Uh-huh.

He mentioned a few specific tools necessary to do the job such as a 10 mm triple square spline bit (like a Torx bit, but 12 points) to remove the CV axle from where it connects to the drive and and 17 mm hex bit socket to remove it from the wheel hub. The new CV axles came with new standard bolts to attach to the wheel hub so I picked up a 27 mm socket for that. I borrowed an electric impact wrench to assist. Ready to roll.


Initially, I planned to tackle this on a Saturday with the hope of finishing in one day. I decided to start the night before. That was a wise choice. With the car up on a jack stand and the wheel removed on the passenger side taking out the one axle bolt in the center of the wheel hub did not present too much of a challenge other than requiring a lot of torque.


Next there are three bolts requiring a 6 mm hex bit to remove the heat shield. That allows access to the six bolts connecting the axle to the drive which take the 10 mm triple square spline bit. I had to use multiple socket extensions to get at these bolts. All 18 were difficult with very last triple square bolt being the worst. I stripped it out and ended up forcibly removing it by drilling it out and cutting the head off with my Dremel. I was not able to get the entire bolt out so that axle is only attached with five bolts.


I got the first axle free in about 90 minutes. However, I could not turn the wheel far enough to get it out. I struggled with it for another 90 minutes with no progress. I figured loosening up some suspension and/or steering components would allow more movement. The two bolts which connect the wheel assembly to the strut were the only ones accessible and not seized up.

Unfortunately, one of the bolts on each side could not be removed because of the proximity to the frame. I had to cut the heads off of each those by hand with a hacksaw blade. That was the hardest part of this whole deal taking 30 minutes for each bolt resulting in a visit to my chiropractor on Monday. I suppose a reciprocating saw would have done the trick in this situation, but I did not have one.


Once I had those two bolts out I was able to swing the wheel assembly far enough away to get the old axle out. After all that, putting the new one in was easy in comparison. Following this type of work on a vehicle it might be a good idea to get the alignment checked, but I did not feel it was needed.


This was a tough, physically demanding repair. It took me 12 hours over the course of two days. I spent $125 for the parts and about $70 on tools. My local dealership quoted me $300 parts and 4 hours of labor for a total of $750. Was it worth it? I think so. While my estimate for this job was 8 hours, I had the additional time to spend on this. Sure I could have spent the extra $550 and had the dealership do it, but where is the fun in that?