Category: Around the House

Feb 17

How to Make a Basket

How To Make A Coiled Basket (courtesy of Howcast.com)

You don’t need a class in basket-weaving to get the hang of creating a handmade basket. Coiled baskets can be made by a novice. You will need:

Dried marsh grass

Raffia

A no. 18 tapestry needle

Step 1: Dampen a pencil-thick bundle of dried marsh grass.

Step 2: Tie raffia to one end of the bundle, and wrap the loose end around the bundle about 10 times as you move up its length. Leave a small gap between each wrap. When you reach the end of the raffia, lay the end of the first raffia along the bundle of grass, and then place the end of the new strand next to the ends of the old strand. Wind the new raffia around the old until the old raffia is covered.

Step 3: Bend the bundle around itself tightly so that it forms a coiled circle, with the wrapped end at the center and the loose end free. When you need to add more grass to the bundle, insert the stem ends of new grasses, a few at a time.
Step 4: Wrap the raffia three times around the uncovered part of the coil, and then use a threaded needle to connect the raffia to the wrapped part with a figure-eight stitch. Pull the stitch tight. Continue sewing figure-eight stitches until the coil is covered and closed.

Step 5: Extend the loop, wrapping the next section of the bundle with raffia and sewing it to the loop underneath with a figure-eight stitch. Continue binding and wrapping at 1-inch intervals as you enlarge the circle. Build the coils up gradually over each other at the desired angle to add height to the basket.

Step 6: Attach the final coil end to the previous one with a figure-eight stitch, and then wrap the raffia around the final two rows and the previous row. Thread the raffia back through the figure-eight stitch, and cut it free.

Did you know? Coiled baskets are used in the Apache Sunrise Ceremony — a rite of passage by which a girl passes from adolescence to womanhood.

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Jan 25

How to Make a Bunk Bed

How To Make a Bunk Bed (courtesy of buildeazy.com)

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Jan 19

How To Make A Silver Retro Christmas Tree

How To Make A Silver Retro Christmas Tree (courtesy of Threadbanger.com)

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy Kwanzaa, and welcome to Décor it Yourself! Every year, Will and I bring home a cut tree, but, this year we wanted to be a little greener and save some green, by bringing home a live one and showing you how to make your own retro tinsel tree!

First, gather a bunch of wire hangers and straighten them all out.

Fold 4 of them in half, then fold in half again, and reinforce the joint with galvanized wire.

Now, take out 4 pieces of thick wire, measuring 64 inches. Wrap the entire length of the 4 metal pieces in galvanized wire to create a strong structure.

Take your “L” shaped feet and attach to one end of your thick wire, to create the stand. Wrap until all 4 feet are secure.

Wrap the entire pole in tinsel, starting at the bottom. Once covered, wrap with galvanized wire.

Now, you’re gonna make your branches. You’re gonna cut different lengths of wire from your hangers, for the tiers of your tree.

Once you have your wire cut to the length it needs to be, wrap the entire piece with tinsel. Bend some tinsel over the end so it covers the sharp end of the hanger. Then, wrap that end with galvanized wire a couple of times, to secure the tinsel.

Now, wrap the entire branch with the wire until you reach the end. Then, secure that end the same way you did the first.

Bend one end 3 inches up at a 90° angle. You will need:

10 – 21” branches

8 – 16” branches

6 – 12” branches

5 – 10” branches

5 – 9” branches

4 – 8” branches

3 – 6” branches.

You’re going to attach your branches by placing them on the trunk, like so. It helps to mark where you’re going to attach them by marking them with a piece of wire.

Use a friend’s help to hold all of the branches of that tier in place. Wrap around all of them at one time with wire. Be sure to wrap all the way to the end of where the small parf of the L reaches the trunk.

We started with the bottom tier of the branches. Next, do the top tier, then measure the space in between to evenly distribute the rest of the tiers.

Once all tiers are securely attached, you’re going to finish your base. Take a square piece of wood, big enough for all 4 legs to fit on. Screw mending plates to each leg, about 2 inches from the trunk.

Paint your feet white to complete your stand.

Fold the branches in different directions to make it lush. Decorate, and voila! You have a retro tinsel tree for under $30 that you can use year after year!

A whole bunch of you asked for Christmas tree alternatives, so when we come back, I’ll show you plenty!

Welcome back! Another great tree alternative is a rosemary bush in the shape of a Christmas tree, that you can also use when cooking your holiday meals.

For small spaces, use a wall decal for your tree, as featured in Apartment Therapy.

Ingrid from Wood and Wool Stools has a cool tree alternative, as seen here. Read last year’s Threadbanger blog for these DIY trees by Venest. Our own viewer, Isabel, made this tree alternative out of a vintage body form. Awesome work, Isabel!

What are you doing for your tree this year? Going eco and green with a live one, or making your own? Send in photos so we can see them. Thanks so much for watching! I’ll see you next wek, and remember, Your Nest Needs You!

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Jan 19

How To Prevent Common Christmas Disasters

How To Prevent Common Christmas Disasters (courtesy of Howcast.com)

With a little forethought, you can avoid many embarrassing, annoying, and downright dangerous holiday mishaps! You will need:

Emergency gifts
A drink limit
Kiss-avoidance strategies
Graciousness
Fishing wire
A computer with internet access
Orange and lemon rinds (optional)

Step 1: Have wrapped, unisex gifts on hand in case you forget someone. This is also useful if someone gives you something that cost twice as much as what you gave them: Just say, “And here’s your other gift!” Pick things you can use if you don’t give them as gifts, or stuff that can hold until next year.

Step 2: Figure out how much alcohol you can drink at the office Christmas party before you’re at risk of doing something you’ll regret. Then stick to your limit.

Step 3: Avoid an unwelcome mistletoe kiss by saying you have a cold – or feigning a cough or sneeze as the person closes in on you.

Step 4: If someone gives you a lousy gift, simply say, “Thank you.” If you pretend to like it, you may get more of the same next year.

Step 5: Prevent an emergency trip to the veterinarian by keeping sweet treats away from dogs and cats. Chocolate toxicity is the most common holiday-related illness for pets. Poinsettias are also poisonous to your four-legged friends.

Step 6: Keep kids and pets from knocking over the Christmas tree by securing it with clear fishing line attached to the treetop and a ceiling hook. If you have a cat, scatter orange and lemon rinds on the tree skirt; most cats hate citrus scents.

Step 7: Don’t panic if you still need gifts and even the drugstores are closed: Just go online, order a gift, and print out a photo of it. On your way out when you realize you’ve forgotten someone? Pick up some movie passes or a gas gift card.

Did you know? The average person gives up on trying to make their new electronic gift work at 11:48 a.m. on Christmas morning, according to a survey!

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Jan 19

Learn How To Celebrate Christmas On A Budget

How To Celebrate Christmas On A Budget (courtesy of Howcast.com)

It’s not just about buying less during the holiday season; it’s about buying smarter. You will need:

A budget
A gift list
Shopping web sites
Haggling skills
Secondhand purchases
Supermarket flyers

Step 1: Set an overall gift budget and use it to determine how much you can spend on each person on your list. Make sure you stick to it! Consider a family agreement to buy gifts for the children only.

Step 2: Search for gifts on eBay, Craigslist, and sites that offer discontinued or overstock items. Use price comparison web sites to ensure you’re getting the best deal, and look for rebates.

Step 3: Check out thrift shops, secondhand stores, and pawn shops – the latter in particular offer great savings on jewelry, watches, and electronics.

Step 4: Learn how to haggle. You can often get a discount just by asking for it, especially if it’s a small store, you’re a good customer, and you offer to pay in cash. Just remember to be polite and ask discreetly. Always ask salespeople if there are any coupons, promotions, or discounts available.

Step 5: Bake holiday treats from scratch to reduce costs, and consider giving some of them as gifts. Start scanning supermarket flyers a few weeks in advance for sales on baking supplies so you can stock up when prices are low. Butter stays good in the freezer for several months.

Step 6: Find ways to save on decorations. If you buy a real Christmas tree, make a wreath out of trimmings. Fill colorful bowls and vases with edibles, like fruit and nuts. Turn stemware upside down and put votive candles on the base for an unusual candleholder, or float votives in the glasses right side up.

Step 7: Trim your holiday card list by only sending greetings to people you rarely see. Then shop the post-Christmas sales to stock up for next year!

Did you know? The average American family spends over $1,000 on Christmas!

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Jan 05

How To Make Lavender and Chamomile Sugar Scrub

How To Make Lavendar and Chamomile Sugar Scrub (courtesy of NoreensKitchen.com)

Hi everyone! It’s Noreen, and welcome to my kitchen! And welcome to another episode of The holidays are coming! Now, last week, we did bath salts, and I did want to make a statement about that. In some states, what they call “bath salts” have been made “illegal” because it’s a certain type of drug, that, I think you smoke – I don’t even know. But, they’re not the bath salts that I make. So, when you talk about bath salts and you hear that in the news, that’s not what we’re talking about. That’s something totally different – it’s just called the same thing.

But anyway, we’re gonna kinda go a step further today, and we’re gonna make a sugar scrub. This is really nice – you take it in the shower and then you scrub it all over your skin, and you rinse it off when you wash off, and it exfoliates all of those dead skin cells and it makes your skin glow, and it helps your body absorb moisturizer a lot more quickly, and it helps you to – the things that are in it are gonna help the toxins escape from your body, and it’s gonna be wonderful!

So, let’s see what goes in this! This is another thing that you could make assembly line style. You can make a whole bunch of it and just jar it up. You could even sell this at bazaars – it would be fantastic. So, what we’re gonna start with is a cup of Demerara sugar, and I’ll show you what that looks like. I should have left it out – you know what? I have a full one over here, let me grab it. I buy this in my grocery store – this is also what I use in my favorite bread recipe! This is pure cane sugar – sugar before it’s refined – so it still has a lot of molasses in it. Still has a lot of nutrients and minerals in it that refined sugar does not have. In the bowl it goes – a cup.

And, this is a ¼ cup of epsom salt. Not sea salt – a ¼ cup of epsom salt, because epsom salt is gonna help extract toxins from your body.

The next thing we’re gonna do…this is Vitamin E oil. You can get this at the health food store, you can get it online, I bought it in the vitamin section at Walmart, and it was about $3.00. And this will go a very long way – except you have to get it open! I’m gonna use a tablespoon of Vitamin E oil.

We’re gonna use a ¼ cup of some sort of oil, but, this is organic olive oil – cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil, ok? I will warn you – you cannot use vegetable oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, with this. You can use these 3 types of oil. You can use olive oil, you can use liquid coconut oil or you can use almond oil for this scrub. The olive oil contains lots of antioxidants that are fabulous for your skin, so you’re nourishing your body as well as having healthier skin.

Now, I’m also going to add a tablespoon each of lavender flowers and dried camomile flowers. Put those both in. You can do anything with this. If you want to make a lemon scrub, you can zest a lemon and you can put the lemon zest in here and it will smell fabulous. You can throw some black tea in here – just pop open a couple of black tea bags – or you can use green tea, or you can open up your favorite herbal tea and just toss a couple of those loose tea bags in here. Not the bag part, just the herb part.

Now, let me show you these herbs here before we move forward. This bag of lavender flowers was less than $5.00, and I get this from San Francisco Herb and Natural Food Company, and their website is HerbSpiceTea.com, and I love them! They have fantastic prices and an amazing, amazing selection to choose from, and they have medicinal herbs, they have culinary herbs and spices. And then, this is whole chamomile flowers, and both of these bags are a pound. You know, that’s a lot. When you think, I’m gonna buy a pound, that’s a huge bag. A huge bag! But, the chamomile flowers are fabulous. Chamomile helps you to relax. It takes the edge off, it has a natural calming quality about it, so this is perfect for taking a shower in the evening. It’s gonna help you exfoliate your skin as well, along with everything else that we’ve put in this scrub. This one I got from MountainRoseHerbs, which is another one of my favorite purveyors, or vendors, for herbal supplies. And, I will put their web addresses in the underbar, and their website is MountainRoseHerbs.com. And again, they have fabulous prices, and they also have – they have some things that San Francisco Herb and Tea doesn’t have, and vice versa. They also have a fantastic website where they actually have videos – they have a YouTube channel, and they have recipes and demonstrations, and you can learn a lot on their website about the origins and the uses for all of the herbs and everything that you’re looking at on there.

So, back to this! The only thing left to do know is to jar this up. I just put my trusty canning funnel up here, and I may have to tap this down. You’re gonna get more than a jar’s worth. This is just for demonstration purposes. You can pretty up that jar, put it in a cellophane bag, tie it with a bow, and you’re ready for gift giving! You can put a tag on it, and leave instructions below on how to use it. In fact, I’ll show you right here. I’ll just take some warm water – I’ll just do it on my arm, here. Just take a handful of it and rub it on your skin, and you’ll be able to feel – it’s gonna exfoliate all of the dry skin of of your body wherever you use it. It smells wonderful, and the, you know, the oil is not gonna be greasy on your skin, and you’re gonna wash it off with soap after you’re done. And I’ll just reach over here and get some of my hand soap. And it’s just like, if you’ve ever gone to Bath and Body Works or Crabtree and Evelyn or some really – like The Body shop, they’re really expensive places where you can go and get body care items. And you just dry off. But, this makes your skin really soft – feel it. Really soft!

So, give this a try. It’s a great gift! We’ve added the extra vitamin e in there. You don’t have to use a tablespoon if you choose not to. You can use a teaspoon. If you’re looking out for your budge, you don’t have to use it at all. So, there you have it – Sugar and Olive Oil Body Scrub that you make from home to give to your friends and family for Christmas. It’s not expensive, and you can make – if you buy a container of the Demarar sugar, a bottle of olive oil, a bag of epsom salts and a little bit of chamomile or lavender or spearmint or whatever herb you choose to put in there, or you don’t have to put herbs in it at all. You can make a whole bunch really cheap, and you can give it to everybody that you know and care about for Christmas. So, there’s another idea for holiday gift giving…I hope you try it, and I hope you enjoy it! Until next time – I’ll see ya!

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Nov 29

Learn How To Hang Christmas Lights Outdoors

How To Hang Outdoor Christmas Lights (courtesy of Howcast.com)

Get in the Christmas spirit and illuminate your house with a dazzling display of lights! You will need:

Power source
Extension cord
Tape measure
Ladder
Christmas light hooks
Vertical Christmas light clips
Pole with a hook
Switch or timer (optional)
Coat hanger (optional)
Broomstick (optional)
Duct tape (optional)

Step 1: Find an outdoor electrical outlet that you will be able to plug a heavy duty extension cord into. Use an outlet that is controlled by a switch or run your lights through a timer.

Step 2: Use the tape measure to determine the length of the area where you want to hang the lights as well as the height of any walls, bushes, or trim where you will be hanging lights. Then figure the number of 50-foot light strings you will need.

Step 3: Look for broken or missing bulbs, and worn or bare wires before you plug in the lights. Then plug in the lights to make sure they work before you hang them.

Step 4: Use a stepladder if your house’s eaves are low. If not, use an extension ladder. Plant the ladder on level ground and extend it well above the eaves at a safe angle.

Step 5: Hang lights along the gutters first, using plastic clips made for light strings. Then attach lights to vertical trim using the vertical clips.

Step 6: Hang lights in small trees using the pole with the hook on it. Drape the string over the hook, extend it to the tree, and then twist the pole, allowing the string to fall from the hook to the branches. You can make a device by bending a coat hanger into a hook and attaching it to a broomstick with duct tape.

Did you know? Thomas Edison created the first strand of electric lights and decorated the outside of his Menlo Park Laboratory with them around Christmas, 1880!

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Nov 17

Learn How To Save Paper

Learn How To Save Paper (courtesy of Howcast.com)

Think green, and you’ll learn how to save trees, and maybe put a little green in your pocket! You will need:

Shop eco-friendly

Use electronic devices

Rethink your print practices

Reusable containers

Cloth napkins and handkerchiefs

Recycled toilet paper

Shop eco-friendly by buying products in bulk or concentrate, to reduce paper packaging waste. Choose products with minimal packaging. Nails, screws, wire and other hardware items may be purchased loose from many home improvement stores to reduce paper packaging.

Step 2 – Go electronic, and text yourself to-do lists and memos. Send e-cards, pay bills online, eliminate junk mail and invest in an e-reader.

Step 3 – Change your print practices to include using the print range feature, to print only what is needed. Use the double-sided printing feature, and email documents whenever possible.

Step 4 – Use reusable containers, napkins and handkerchiefs.

Step 5 – Make the switch to toilet paper and other items produced with recycled paper, and next time you hug a tree, you might get a hug back!

Did you know? Experts estimate that between 2000 and 2005, about 1% of the planet’s total forested area disappeared.

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Nov 16

Learn How To Get Really Creative For The Holidays

How To Get Really Creative For The Holidays (courtesy of Threadbanger.com)

It’s that time of year again, when Jack Frost nips at your nose, and the Grinch’s heart grows 3 times its size. It’s winter in the city, and holiday season everywhere!

Well, hello there, my Threadbanger friends, and welcome to the Décor It Yourself holiday special! If thinking about the upcoming holiday season stresses you out, relax! The holidays aren’t about spending money that none of us have. They’re about spending time with those that we love. So today, we’re gonna create the invitations, décor and gifts to give our loved ones a warm, wintry evening.

Gifts can be one of the most stressful parts of the holiday season – especially during these hard times. I’m gonna give you 3 easy gift ideas, that cost no more than $10!

For our first gift, we’ll take inspiration from our Earth Day episode, and create a gift by putting a cut plant in a vintage vessel. Who doesn’t need a little extra green, especially during these hard times.

These lovely coasters were made from remnants of fabric from leftover DIY projects. I still get in trouble when I go home to my folk’s house and don’t use a coaster. Sorry, mom!

For our last gift, you’ll need cinnamon sticks, cloves and clementine peels. Place your ingredients into an old mason jar and take a cool dishtowel and wrap it around it. Tie it with a bow, and you have a nice, warm gift of aromatic mulling spices. For more on mulling spices, check out the first episode of Décor It Yourself.

And now, on to my favorite element of any time of year – the décor!

For a quick and classy element of décor, spray a candle with adhesive, roll it in some glitter and place into an old shot glass or decorated vessel.

For our next décor piece, we’ll use our old wire hangars to create cool, seasonal sayings.

And, for the easiest of our décor ideas, take an old mirror and place on it your favorite woodland friends. Add a touch of glitter for a little snow flurry.

For our final low-budget décor piece, we’re gonna put our own spin on an old, kitschy idea. You’ll need some airtight glass containers, a glue gun, some figurines, glycerin, glitter and distilled water.

First, sand the inside of the container’s lid. Glue the feet of your figurine to the inside of the container’s lid and allow to dry.

Add 2 tablespoons of glitter to the vessel and fill with distilled water. To distill water, just boil and allow to cool.

Now, just add one drop of glycerin to the container, close the lid, and use your snowglobe as winter décor, or add a bow, and you have another gift to give!

Now that we have our seasonal décor and our gifts to give, we’re ready to invite our guests. After all, opening your home is a gift in itself! For unique invite ideas, check the DIY weddings episode of Décor It Yourself. But, for the holiday invite, we’re using a polaroid from last years’ Christmas. Look at us – living together in sin!

Well, we’re almost ready for our guests! But, to keep your party stress-free and low budget, choose one signature cocktail and one tasty treat. We’re doing sparkling peach and pomegranate schnapps, along with cookies, cupcakes and pumpkin bread.

I guess it’s time to celebrate!

Well, that was a hit! I’m off to clean up, but be sure to check back the first Wednesday of every month for more nesting. And remember, Your Nest Needs You!

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Nov 15

How To Make A Wreath Out Of Old CDs

How To Make A Wreath From Old CDs (courtesy of Howcast.com)

Short on holiday decorations, but long on old CDs? Tis the season to be crafty! You will need:

A plastic, wooden or foam craft ring
30 old CDs
A hot-glue gun
A picture hanger
A strand of battery-powered holiday lights
Batteries
A holiday bow or ribbon
A hammer
A nail
A plastic scraper (optional)

Optional: An over-the-door wreath hanger

Step 1: Arrange the CDs in evenly spaced intervals completely around the craft ring, shiny side facing out, and glue them into place.

Step 2: Glue a second layer of CDs so that they’re evenly spaced between the CDs on the first layer.

Step 3: Glue the picture hanger to the back of the ring so the wreath will hang properly.

Step 4: Glue the battery pack for the Christmas lights to the back of the wreath, opposite the hanger. When the glue dries, wrap the strand of lights around the outer edge of the wreath, with the lights hanging over onto the CDs. After positioning the lights, glue the strand to the backs of the CDs to hold it in place.

Step 5: Glue the bow or tie the ribbon to the bottom of the wreath to give your creation some holiday flair. Before displaying your wreath, remove any stray bits of glue with your hands or a plastic scraper.

Step 6: Tap a nail into your door and hang your wreath. If you can’t use nails, use an over-the-door hanger. Turn the lights on and bask in the colorful glow!
Did you know? In 2000, global sales of CDs peaked at 2.5 billion. In 2006, that figure was down to 1.8 billion.

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Nov 11

Learn How To Furnish An Apartment For Almost No Money

How To Furnish An Apartment With Practically No Money (courtesy of Howcast.com)

You can’t be a couch potato without a couch. So stop squatting and listen to these hints! You will need:

Investigative skills

A dose of humility

And a keen eye

Step 1: Spread the word among friends and family that you are in the market for furniture they no longer need or want.

Step 2: Check out www.craigslist.com for free stuff, trade possibilities, or the opportunity to barter one of your skills.

Step 3: Comb thrift stores and second-hand stores in your area. Make friends with an employee at the local Goodwill or Salvation Army store so they can alert you if the perfect sofa, desk, or whatever comes in.

Step 4: Go curb shopping—that is, drive around looking for perfectly good pieces of furniture that people have thrown out. Some communities have designated “big trash” days when large items are allowed to be discarded. Time your curb shopping for maximum results. The end of the month at apartment complexes is good, as that’s when people move out, as is early May around universities, when college kids are cleaning out their dorm rooms.

Step 5: Check community websites for “freecycling” postings.

Step 6: Be creative. See the possibilities in things: an old bedspread can become drapes by sewing a pocket for a curtain rod; old dressers and bookshelves can be jazzed up with paint and new hardware; chair slipcovers can make the ugliest chairs look elegant.

Step 7: Check for discounts. Visit your local furniture stores to see if they have any scratched furniture or showroom samples available at deep discount.

Did you know? An Englishman vacationing in Australia in 2004 paid $36 for a suitcase that turned out to be filled with Beatles memorabilia worth nearly a million dollars!

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Nov 07

How To Use Sustainable Holiday Decorations

Sustainable Holiday Tips (courtesy of TheSalvageStudio.com)

Welcome to the Salvage Studio. I’m Beth Evans Romos, this is Amy Duncan and Lisa Hildebrand. We began our creative endeavor 3 years ago with our mutual lust for rust! We rescue good junk and re-purpose it into fun and functional home and garden décor!

Today, we’re gonna talk about how to set an entertaining table, Salvage Studio style. This works great for entertaining during the holidays. This same idea would also work if you were doing a sit down dinner. We’re gonna start from the bottom up, and we’ll talk about all the different ideas you can use to give you that lust for rust look.

First of all, starting with the tablecloths. I like to use white linen. White linen tablecloths are abundant at the thrift stores, they don’t need to be ironed because we like that sort of shabby chic ruffled, crumpled look. I like to layer several over one another. This works out great, because if the ones underneath have a hole and stains in them, the one on top will cover it over.

Once you have that down, then I like to put mirrors on top. Flat mirrors are easy to find, often times without the frame, and it just really helps to add an element to the tabletop and give it some sparkle. It works really great if you have some candlelight – it helps to bring that to focus.

Then, the next thing are trivets. You’re probably serving a combination of hot and cold food, and so we like to put down some interesting trivets. This one is an old spinning wheel, this one is a grapevine wreath, and this one is an old industrial gear.

Here’s some items that you can put your dishes in to. We love silver plate at the studio. And it doesn’t need to be shiny and bright. We love it to be tarnished, because it really shows the patina and adds one more layer of texture to your table. This is a beautiful dish, and if you collect a lot of different ones, you never know when they’re gonna come in useful.

We found this piece, which is an old farm pulley, at a friend’s house where she was throwing some things away. I thought, my God, what could we ever do with that? And we turned it upside down and thought wow – that makes a beautiful stand. And then the silver dish sits on top, and there you have the perfect display piece for your buffet table.

Another use of silver plate is taking the old silver plated trays. This has been attached to a lazy susan that has been painted black. The 2 are married together with adhesive, and again, makes a sunny presentation on your table.

Continuing on with silver plates, we also have these pedestals that can be made. These glasses are from wedding receptions that I don’t think were ever used after that fact, and then, just have the trays glued on top. If you stack them together, one on top of another, then you maximize the space on your buffet table, and you also have a wonderful looking display for crackers, cheese, fruit or desert items.

Another great buffet piece is made from putting together the glass ceiling fixtures with an old candlestick. This is an old wooden candlestick that has been painted a white color, and this piece has been attached to it with a rubber gasket and a screw. This is great, then, in not only holding things such as bread, but it could also hold a salad or possibly some mixed vegetables.

Continuing on with other pieces that have been repurposed. These candlesticks have been made from an old wooden lamp that has a great texture and patina to it. And, glued on the top has been a silver plate coaster. Always nice to add candlelight to your buffet table. It just really makes everything look that much more festive.

Another great piece that has been put together from repurpose items is this fireplace tool caddy. It has been reborn as the perfect buffet piece. These are, again, the glass globes from a smaller fixture that has been wired on and crystals added. You could put in silverware, you could put in napkins, you could put in bread sticks.

Then, finishing up with the final touches. I have napkins here, in an old soup tureen that has lost its top. And again, we like to use the real napkins along with the real silverware and real plates on the buffet table, instead of plastic and styrofoam. It just really gives that extra touch that means so much that you care.

And finally, for a little personal touch, I have these glass jars with photographs. They could very easily be place holders, if you were doing a sit down dinner, or they could just have a little fun momento for people if you’re having a family reunion. What this is is an old photograph that has been inserted into a glass jar. This one has some buttons in the back to help hold the photo in place, and then, the cover has been spray painted black and put on to hold it all together.

So, as you can see, lots of lovely ideas that makes use of what you have at hand to give our buffet table that special look!

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Oct 27

Learn How To Repurpose TShirts Into Tote Bags

How To Re-Purpose T-Shirts Into Tote Bags (courtesy of Threadbangers.com)

Hey Threadbangers! Today, it’s all about the earth. Earth Day was this week, so today I’m gonna turn the episode over to G from Refashionoso.com, and she’s gonna show us an easy way to turn old kids’ clothes into a new bag…check it out!

Here we are! From 2 t-shirts from Zara Kids, let’s create a new bag! Yo – enjoy!

What I’ve got today are 2 t-shirts from my daughter. These 2. These are 2 small for her now. So, what we are going to do, because the cotton is still fantastic, is create a bag! Are you ready for this? Yes, I am!

Let’s put the t-shirts on the floor, one with the design up, the 2nd one with the design face down. With pins, pin 3 sides of the t-shirts, leaving the 4th one and the sleeves free. After that, simply start to sew!

OK, guys, done! Now, we have to create the handles of the bag, using the sleeves of the 2 t-shirts. Let’s do it!

First of all, you need 4 buttons, and 4 pieces of textile, like this – look – with a hole in the middle, so we can use that like this. If you don’t have this, simply take a piece of denim, cut a little bit – cut a little piece like this – and make a hole in the middle, ’cause the denim is very hard material, it’s very good to do this kind of thing.

Simply, in one edge of the sleeve, sew the piece of textile with the hole in the middle. In the other sleeve, sew the button. Let’s do the same for the 4 sleeves of the 2 t-shirts. This way you can see how is simple to create the handles of the bag.

Look! We have done! And here as well – yes! Now, what we have to do – we cut the 2 labels, yes. We put this part inside like this, and we fix with pins. OK, and now, we simply have to close our new bag.

To close it, I want to use an old piece of t-shirt, denim t-shirt. I’m going to put this inside, and the button of the t-shirt outside. You can close it this way. I mean, you can use the buttons, everything you want and everything you like – it’s up to you. Ad then, start to sew.

OK, guys! We have done! Yes! It’s our new bag, look! And now, just open it. That’s it, and put inside all what you need: wallet, book, keys, close it. Yes! And now, we are ready to go out! Yes! I love it!

Thanks for the video, G. You’re a rockin’ eco-fashionista!

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Oct 24

Learn How To Make Pendant Lights From Thrifty Vintage Finds

How To Make Pendant Lights out of Thrifty Vintage Finds (courtesy of RetroRenation.com)

Hi! I’m Pam Kueber from RetroRenovation.com.

Hi! I’m Susan Schneider from Shandells.com,

…and we’re here today to talk to you about how to take thrifty finds from, maybe Grandma’s attic or your local re-store – even take just unique household items – and transform them into pendant lighting that you can enjoy every day! The name of the show is, “Put A Bulb In It”.

So, what do we mean by Put A Bulb In It? Well, Pam sent me an email with these amazing pendants from all over the country, different artists and different vessels and all different things, and I said, wow, this should be something fun to do! So, I went out to our local thrift store and our local junk store to see what was around that I could put a bulb in. And this is what I came back with. Here is a before and after of a Put A Bulb In It.

This is a pair of lamps that I found. Not the favorites, but they were ok, but they were glass, they had a beautiful shape, they were fluted, they had a wonderful scallop on it. But, the best thing is, they had a hole in it. Everything is already pre-made, easy for you to take everything apart, turn it upside down and Put A Bulb In It.

Hey, Precautionary Pam here, warning you, as I often do on the site, about making sure whenever you undertake a project, that you’re using proper environmental and safety procedures. Now, with the project, we’re not really giving you the advice – the DIY advice – about how to do wiring or hanging, or even about the exact wattage that should go into these puppies. That’s because every project’s gonna be different. So, make sure, when you’re going through the actual steps of rewiring, hanging and putting in the bulbs,that you’re consulting with proper, expert, professional advice. A local electrician can be a great resource. Another place to get started with good information about lots of safety stuff in the house is Underwriter’sLaboratories.com. Again, always be sure to renovate safe!

Oh! Am I live? OK. Hey Pam! I went shopping after that wonderful email that you sent me about those pendant lamps. And look at what I found here, on the table! Oh! It’s just amazing! But, let’s start with how this all started with putting a bulb in it. It started with a Ball jar. Mason jar, canning jar, they were putting bulbs in it and hanging pendants. A company that advertises with you, Barnlight Electric, they have them right on their site. So, if you don’t want to do any of this and be creative on your own, they’re made up, ready to go from them. But, here we are today, looking at all these different things that we can put a bulb in it, and we’re gonna do it ourselves.

What we need is a vessel – a glass vessel is what we have here. And we need 2 things to be with this – we need a cap and we need a hole. This one has a cap. All we need to do is to make a hole through this. We need to trash the inside here, to break the porcelain,then put a hole in it. Then, we can electrify this, hang it as a pendant. So, that’s one that’s around all over. I went and I said, let’s do something a little bit different. Here’s some old-fashioned sugar shakers. They have a wonderful column, with all the ridges going up and down. An architectural feel. And when the light comes through this, it’s a bit of a prism. This one here has a hole as well as a cap. Very easily to be electrified. Hang the pendant in the kitchen, over a dining suite, would be perfect – Put A Bulb In It! And then, we have colored glass. Colored glass – we can have green, there’s blue, there’s amber, pink, just all different jars. All that you can find in your thrift store and your bottle shops locally. And, most of them all come with caps in it. And, you can find a box of old jar caps and match your caps to it. Here we are with green ones – all we have to do it drill, put the electrical in, and there we have green pendants to hang in the kitchen.

Then I though, oh! I found these. These were peanut butter jars. They were so adorable! They were shaped a little bit different. They were rectangle, they had embossed peanuts all around them. So I thought, wow, wouldn’t these look great! Instead of the round, normal ones, have a little bit different of a shape. They have a cap in it. You unscrew these, make a hole in it, electrify it, hang up, and there you have a pendant all to your own!

These are kind of utilitarian, kitchen vessels that are all around the house. Let’s go a little bit fancier. I found these little, tiny lamps which were ok. But the nicest part about it is they were all crystal. Crystal, and they were all pressed glass. And, the best part is, they all have holes in it – that’s what you need! Unless you want to go down the route of drilling your own glass, but, that’s up to you. These have holes in it. I took them apart, cleaned them up, hang them up all electrified together, at different heights or 3 over a dining room table, 3 over a counter in a kitchen. There, you have your pendants, unique to yourself, to Put A Bulb In It!

OK, down to the next one. These were mid-century, probably outdoor fixtures that hung outside. Now, we’re gonna reclaim them, we’re gonna re-purpose them to indoor lighting. We’re gonna make a pendant out of them. What we want for this is, we need something to hold it up. So, we need a cap to go on top. The cap will hold all your electrical on the inside, and they have little tiny screws here that screw right into this lip, to hold it in. So therefore, you can hang them on their own, together, in clusters of 3, 4 and 5. Be creative, enjoy, and see what’s out there!

And also I found these, which are great. Beehive design with an iridescent feel to them. And the same thing as the ones with the gold on top of it, you need the cap that screws onto the little lip that holds it up. Then you put the electrical inside of it, and there we have a pendant, all to its own.

Here’s the absolute best thing that I found – this wonderful crystal lamp. Look at this – I thought this was great! It had a fabulous shape to it, wonderful design. It wasn’t my favorite as a lamp. Some people might like it, but I didn’t. And I thought, wow, let’s take this apart. Because this is not one piece of crystal…this is 3. So, I took this apart, cleaned it all up, and look at this. Classical, beautiful shapes that you will electrify to make a 3-pendant ceiling fixture. There you go, Pam. Stuff I found on my trip, to Put A Bulb In It!

Pam! What did you bring me?

Ok Susan! I got so excited! I went through all of my junking areas – the attic, the basement, my office – everyone knows – looking for things that we can put a bulb in, so I want to make sure that I have the right idea now. Vintage cheese grater – can we put a bulb in it?

Absolutely. Absolutely. Put 7 of them across your counter!

You know, I knew the answer was yes, because that’s exactly what in that 70s house…That 70s Show…the kitchen, if you look carefully, it has 7 pendant lights basically made out of cheese graters. And these are great!

What about a vintage coffee cup? It’s kind of translucent. This is my Blue Heaven pattern. Can we turn this into a little light?

Yes, we can. I love the pattern, will be great. Doesn’t have a hole in it, so, what I would suggest is, take this to your local tile guy, your glass guy. They’re the ones who are gonna be able to drill through glass and tile.

Tile guy. I wouldn’t have ever thought about that – that’s a great idea.

Tile guys. The important thing about drilling glass is you need water. You need the fusion of water, because that’s what’s gonna make it…you might lose some…it might happen. It’s always the weakest link that’s gonna blow. But, you can Put A Bulb In It. Good idea, too, ’cause that’s not enough coffee for me!

Alright, so how about a pendant made out of an old cake topper?

I love it! I love the shape, because it’s wonderfully smooth…we’re gonna lose this, but you know what? If you’re gonna hang it up, you’re not gonna see this. I mean, take it off and repurpose it for something else.

You wanna put 2 lights on this one?

2 lights. I like them. You’ll get a lot more light, instead of driving down. Remember, you’re gonna have to hang it up high enough so you’re not gonna have a bulb sticking in your eyes. So, the cluster lights is gonna be an easier way to go with that one.

The other idea I had – I didn’t have one at home – but when I saw this I thought, you know, there are a lot of chipping, painted cake plate toppers that would be beautiful as pendant lights.

That’s great! There’s ones with plaid all around it, just fabulous. And those are all around.

I’m super proud of this one – this is the coffee holder for one of those big Westbend guys, and I thought, oh, that would be cute! Can we Put A Bulb In It?

Yes, we can! It would take a little bit more than just, you know, throwing some wires on this, because if you want to keep the shaft and use it to hold your pendant, then we need a welder. Epoxy is not gonna hold this together. You need this to be solidly fixed, welded. You need holes drilled into your metals, so you could put a cluster body inside there.

Ok, so a little bit more professionalism if you’re gonna keep this piece, but if you’re just gonna use this as a shade, it looks to me like you could put a bulb in this one really easily.

Absolutely. This piece can come off, this one would be a lot easier. If you want to keep this, which I think we both agree is the nicer of the 2 because of its wonderful shape here, then you need to go to your professional to help you out. Yea, get some help.

Um, ok, Susan, you’re a gluten food girl…

I know, and I don’t use one anymore!

So, can we turn this into a pendant light?

Yes, we can. We can turn it into a pendant light, and what about doing it as a ceiling light? You know…doing it the other way around, so that light seeps down this way. It’s been done, but who says it can’t be done again? Perfect to put a bulb in.

OK, I’m kinda pushing limits here, he ain’t heavy, he’s my blender. It’s pretty heavy, this one. It’s like an old Oster blender top. Can we put a bulb in it?

Yes, we can put a bulb in it. It has all of the parameters. It has a top here, it has a hole, so all we have to do is take out the spinning mechanism. You can put your electrical through here, and you can hang it up. But, this needs to go into a support stud. Because, you know, you don’t want to be drinking your morning coffee and having this hit your head.

So, you need a stud for this one?

Yes, you need a stud for this one. Love the birdcage!

The birdcage. Now, this isn’t real dear. This I just got at my – I think TJMax about 5 years ago.

But, you know what? Even thought it’s not dear, it might be the perfect thing for the room that you need. So, regardless of…what about a hallway?

And, we talked about how you could cut this out and put glass in the bottom and it would shine down – more light down as well as out. And you had another idea…

I had another great idea is to open it up, and then line the insides with rice paper…a color – you know, yellow, blue green – make it bright and fun. There’s so much to do, and you can sit/put birds in it!

So, you could decorate the inside and then Put A Bulb In It. Yes! So, this is one of my favorites. It’s an old Lennox pepper mill with the welcoming wheat. I just love the shape! I mean, once you get this idea in your head, you just start looking at these objects in a different way. So, it’s a pepper mill, and obviously there’s a mechanism running down the middle of it that you can rip out. And then, what about this? Can we save this?

Yes, we can. I mean we won’t be able to save the little top here, but what we will do is we’ll drill a bigger hole than the existing hole already in this. So, that’s an easy step. You’re not going into blank, starting from scratch. So we make this hole wider so we can drop the cord down. And I think like a round little bulb on the bottom…I think it would be so adorable with a bulb. Put A Bulb In It!

OK, last but not least, Susan’s favorite – the Good Seasons dressing bottle, which I found at an estate sale in a basement. It’s still got the packaging inside of it, so they never put…how’d you make it back in the day?

Well, exactly like it says. Add vinegar, water, oil, and then put the seasonings. That’s it – every night for dinner! And shake it up. I loved to…

So can we put a bulb in it?

No!

No?

Let’s not put a bulb in it, let’s put a bulb ON it. I mean, can you imagine, just putting a little bulb on it, a little tiny lampshade, in your kitchen, keeping all of this original right here? I think this is our next project, Pam. Let’s Put A Bulb On This.

Alright, so next time we’ll get together and talk about how to Put A Bulb ON It.

Not in it Pam, on it!

You send us your ideas! If you have any lamp bases that you want us to try to work with, challenge us! See what we can do!

I’m Pam Kueber from Retrorenovation.com,

and I’m Susan Schneider from Shandells.com,

and we want to encourage you to Put A Bulb In It!

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Oct 09

How To Repair Cane Furniture – Part II

How To Repair Cane Furniture Part II (courtesy of Wickerworks.com/au)

Step 5 is the diagonals. I’ve started by coming up in the left-hand corner – the nearest corner, this one here. Underneath the yellow golf tee, I’ve come up underneath there, and as you can see, it goes over the verticals, the corner of the verticals there…and these ones, here, the horizontals. So, I’ve gone over the horizontals and the verticals, next one over, and you just keep following that. If you do the opposite, in other words, if you go over the horizontal and under the vertical, you’ll find you get a real zig-zag sort of pattern, and it’s not gonna slide nicely.

So, I just run this bit through first. Don’t forget, keep the cane nice and wet and you’ll find it slides easily. See, a couple of the strands have been put in now. And, when I said start from the corner, you can see down in the bottom here – just drop that – that I came up that one there and did a couple over here, and now I’m coming back. The reason that we start off in the corner is so that when you do come back this way, you’ve got a choice by going over that and coming down in there, or you can come over there. But, you see how awful that would look. So, join it back in the corner, there, get a little V shape and bring that cane underneath there and up here, and off you go. Keep going back and forth. You may get to a point in over this corner where you can join the diagonals so they go both into the same hole, and you will see that in a minute. But, really, it’s just aesthetically, you’ve got to make sure that it looks really nice and keep nice, parallel widths – that’s all you need to do. There’s no law, no rules, no one’s gonna come knock on your door saying you done it wrong. Just make sure you keep a nice, parallel look and that’s it! OK, I’m gonna keep going until I finish this step.

OK, now, were progressing with Step 6. That’s the final one of the diagonals. You can see all of the other ones are in place. I’ll put this black bit underneath so you can see it a little bit better…shows it up a little easier. Once again, I’ve started in the right-hand corner this time, underneath the white peg, and I’m gonna pull it up. And this time, you go over the horizontals and under the verticals. So you do the opposite way of weaving, compared to the first diagonal. It makes a little bit more sense once I’ve woven a few more strands.

So now I’ve finished Step 6, so both of the diagonals are in, you can see that it’s nice and neatly done. I’ll leave the golf tees in for the moment. And Stage 7, Step 7 will be the edge strip that gong all the way around where the outside holes are. You’re going to put the binder cane in, and that’s where we remove the golf tees one by one and tie off underneath.

OK, first of all you need to cut up some little pegs, and these are made out of pith core, or little timber plugs. And I’m just cutting them nice and short and putting a little sharp point on the end, if you want to, in every other hole, going around the back here. So, every 2nd hole, just tuck that into the hole. You can always push them in with your finger, but every 2nd hole, just tuck them in…another one here, and follow them all around. Take this golf tee out, and continue that around.

And you need also a binder cane, which is this one here. It’s a little bit wider than the normal rattan you need for here, so that it covers the holes up. Plug that in there, and then you have the same size cane, which is what we use in the weaving – that was the 2 ml cane, and what you need to do is come out from that hole there, go over the top of it, and pull down really tight. So, you see that for a finish. Come up through the 2nd hole and re-weave that down in that same hole again so you get that nice, little edge for it. So I’m just gonna do a few strands of that to show you what it looks like. Also, start from the back. It makes it easier to finish off, and a lot neater. So, I’m just finishing off where we first started. Just going back over the top , with the binder, just go back over the top of the other a little bit and lock it in. Just pull it a bit tight, and that’s it!

Then, all you need to do is tie off all these loose fits underneath here and snip them off and you’re finished! OK, to finish off underneath, turn the chair upside down and bring some of these canes here and just tuck them up under the next area, which is tricky with one hand! Just like that! And if you want to just finish them all off and nip off the excess, and that should hold quite easily. If you’re really worried about it, I normally put a tiny bit of pba glue just to stop them from moving. That dries clear and then it’s a nice, neat job.

OK, I’ve just finished off a bit of shellacs to brighten the color up, and now you can see that the whole seat has been hand-woven. I get a great deal of satisfaction out of doing these, and
I’m sure you will too. It’s very therapeutic! Just remember to keep the rattan nice and wet when you go to do any weaving, so naturally, stop and start whenever you want to, but maintain this to be wet for weaving. And that’s about it! If this has been helpful for you, leave a comment at the bottom of the video, would be greatly appreciated, and look out for more Need A Good Caning videos. Thanks again, bye for now!

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Oct 08

How to Repair Cane Furniture Part 1

How To Repair Cane Furniture Part 1 (Wickerworks.com/au)

Here we have an antique child’s highchair, and we’re gonna put a new seat in. And, I’ve actually fixed it all up before. It was all cracked around the front area here, as you can see, but, it’s nicely glued up. And, what we’re gonna do is show you how we can hand-weave a new seat – the traditional method of caning, individually laced through all these holes.

What you’re gonna need first of all is a good-sized cane. This one is 2 ½ mil, rattan chair cane, and you can buy it at any supplier. And you also need some golf tees. I’ve got a mixture of wood and plastic golf tees in there, so you can hold the cane in place.

OK, before we get started, what you need to do is soak the cane for about a couple of minutes – 5, 10 minutes at tops – so it becomes a lot more supple, easier to weave, and you can stop and start as often as you like when you’re starting this project, as long as you ensure that the cane is wet. Obviously, if you’ve got cane in the seat partially done, soak that for a little while, and also the new strands that you start weaving, and then that way, you’re gonna find it a lot easier to slide the cane through and make a better job. Because, once it dries out , it tightens up.

Now, there’s a little tip here I want to show you. You won’t be able to see this too well on the camera film, but there’s a little node – little barbs – where the leaves come out from the rattan. It actually grows that way – outwards of course – and the leaves come out this area here. These little barbs catch on your finger, or your fingernail, as you run through there. So, it’s imperative that, when you start weaving – especially the last 2 areas – to run it so that it runs smooth against the rest of the cane. Otherwise, you’re gonna keep catching this on parts of the weave, and it will just cause a bit of a nightmare. In fact, it might even fray or split. So, there’s a little tip for you. Run your finger on the top, and if it’s nice and smooth, that’s the direction you’ve gotta weave, ok? Now, let’s get started!

OK, the very first step you want to do is to ensure that you keep a nice, straight edge from the front to the back – so it’s not sort of going over to the left or the right – by your eyes, make sure you’ve got a nice, straight side there. So you can see that’s pretty straight. You don’t want it over in that hole over there – it would look a bit silly. So, put your first strand here, have a little bit hanging down below here and golf tee in there. Make sure you have the shiny side of the cane up on top, of course, pass it through the hole that you think is dead straight, and bring it up and under next to the right or the left – whichever direction you want to take to. I’m gonna go to the right, because I’m right-handed, so it makes it a little bit easier. Bring it up through the 2nd hole. And, always ensure that you’ve got it nice and fairly tight. Pull it taught. I’m doing this with one hand and holding the camera with the other, but, I can get it fairly tight. And then, when you want to stop, just put a little tee in there, a little golf tee in there and that will hold it in place.

So then, you just keep on going through, down to this hole, run it parallel, into the next hole, crossing, and do that right on to the very end, until you get to the straight, and I’ll show you that in a sec.

So, here’s the first part done, and you can see where I’ve kept it nice and parallel, and there’s no more room for anymore. You don’t need to put any more here. And, so they’re secured by the golf tees. Now, what I’m gonna do is just carry on across the end here. And, once we’ve got all this part in, we’ll go to Stage 2, Step 2.

So, Stage 1 is done. All the strands from the front to the back of the chair are in place. And, I’ve got a fair bit left over, so I’ve brought up the other over here, and now what we’re gonna do is Stage 2 or Step 2 – come across 90° to the first step. So, as you can see – I’ll move the camera around – you’re gonna come across there and weave through those holes and then come out the other hole next to it, and then go back and forth so you’ve got a nice, square pattern.

So, you can now see how we’re forming a nice, square pattern. The cane just sits straight over the top of the first stage. And make sure it stays nice and parallel. And so you’re following every other hole that goes round – every hole that goes round. And we’ll complete that to the very end, here. There’s also a strand parallel to that one. Now, I can get one more in here. As long as it’s run parallel. So, you’ll miss another couple of holes here…so, come up, say from that hole there and run parallel to this string, and that should finish that there off. There’s a few more golf tees in here now – that’s because there’s some ends here that I haven’t tied off but you need to keep them in here, anyway. And then, be sure that you keep this rattan wet as you’re weaving away.

OK, having done Stage 2, now we’re doing Stage 3, and that’s really the same as Stage 1. I’ve come up through this little hole here, as you can see, I’m gonna run parallel to the first stage. On top, once again, and keeping it to the right of the first stage. And you’re gonna go underneath here and, I’m gonna go from left to right just to finish this little bit here off because I’ve got enough cane, and then I’m gonna start on the other area.

So now we’ve successfully done Step 2, or Stage 3, and all the parallel lines are done. And Stage 4 will be doing the same as Step 2 or Stage 2…I’m getting them mixed up here, but it doesn’t really matter there – you get the gist of it all! So, now, we’re gonna go from left to right and follow the Stage 2 ones that run parallel. But, this one is a little bit different. Just start the ball rolling by putting the cane in, and I’ll show you what I mean.

So, for Stage 4, I’ve come up out of this hole here, and if you can see close enough, I’ve gone under the first strand and over the 2nd one. And you have to do that to the next parallel one running here, too – under the first one and over the 2nd one. So, you see, there’s a nice, little square pattern forming there. I’ll just do a couple of other strands so you can see. See these little square patterns forming here? So, don’t forget, it’s under over, under over, under over – just keep on going. And don’t forget to keep the cane fairly damp. I use a little spray bottle, here, which does the trick. Just spray a little water so it slides easier, too. And don’t forget the little tip I told you before with having that running of the cane smoothly up your fingers, because as you start pulling this through, it might catch on some of the cane and break. So make sure it runs nice and smoothly. You don’t need to go right across in one go – you can do it in stages and just gently pull. See? Watch this, where it slides quite easily, and pull that nice and tight til we get to the end, here. Now, when we get to the end here, make sure you don’t get the cane twisting on anything, make sure it stays nice and straight. Keep a nice, straight square pattern here.

And there you go. So, there’s the beginning of Stage 4. So, just keep on doing that, and I’m gonna do a few more strands so you can see what it looks like. So now you can see it’s starting to form a nice square pattern there. I’m just gonna put this black fabric underneath so you can probably see it a lot easier. There you go! That’s a lot better, isn’t it? So, that’s what you’ve got to achieve – keep the squares nice and close to one another and keeping them all parallel. See? It’s looking quite good now! So, I’m gonna finish this off now and then I’ll show you what it looks like when I’ve done the whole – finished the Stage 4.

So here you can see – now, I’ve finished the 4th stage, so we’ve got a nice, square sort of pattern, and all we need to do now is the next 2 stages – these are the diagonals. (Go to How To Repair Cane Furniture Part II)

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Oct 06

Learn How To Maintain Your Gutters

How To Maintain Your Gutters (courtesy of Lowes.com)

Welcome! I’m Courtney. Where is Joel? Right where you’d expect to find him – in the gutter!

Hilarious! Here, I think you missed something, Courtney. Gutter maintenance is not the most fun of chores, but, it is essential in preserving your home. Here are a few things you’ll need to get at your gutters!

A ladder

A bucket to collect your debris

A trowel of some kind for scooping out the gutter gunk

A garden hose to wash out the gutter

A pair of gloves to protest your hands

Ideally, you want to clean out your gutters a couple times a year. Spring and fall are good times. The great thing about gutters is that they keep water away from your windows and walls, as well as your home’s foundation, by sending the water down and out these spouts.

The downside of gutters is that, if they’re not cleaned properly, water will gather in them, and they will damage your roof.

If it’s been dry, removing gutter stuff may only take a good blast from your blower. However, if the dirt and leaves in your gutter are wet, you’re gonna need to get a tool like this gutter scoop, or a trowel, to get it out. Be careful not to damage or scratch your gutter.

Once you get the big stuff out of the gutter, it’s not a bad idea to flush out the whole gutter channel with your garden hose. It helps clean them out, and will help identify any areas that aren’t completely unclogged.

Installing guards is easy, and can go a long way towards reducing the amount of stuff that can get in your gutters and clog them.

One you get your gutters clean, you may find some leaky spots. These can be fixed nice and quick, by applying a little spot caulk to the inside of the gutter. If you discover larger holes or corroded sections in your gutters, you’ll need to get some patch made from the same material as your gutters. This can be laid inside, over the damaged area, set in place with epoxy and roofing cement.

You may find that sections of your gutter are sagging. This is usually a case of the nails working themselves loose. Try resetting them with a hammer, and, if they won’t hold, you replace the nails with screws!

And, that’s the 101 on your gutters. Later!

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Oct 04

Learn How To Dust-Proof Your Home

How To Dust-proof Your Home (courtesy of Howcast.com)

Arm yourself with these proven strategies to banish dust from your home! You will need:

Mattress and pillow covers

Vacuum cleaner

Damp mop

Product to spray rags for dusting

HEPA air filter for the furnace

Portable HEPA filter unit

Optional:

Wood, vinyl or tile flooring

Shades or blinds

A HEPA filter for your vacuum

An old tennis racket

Step 1 – Understand that dust comes from the tiny flakes of skin we constantly shed, fibers shed by fabrics, insect parts, pet dander, hair, pollen grains, mold spores and dust mites.

Step 2 – Learn the places where dust hides, such as deep inside carpet, drapery, upholstered furniture, mattresses, and on hard surfaces, including all of those knick-knacks decorating your home. If you can, replace wall-to-wall carpeting with wood, vinyl or tile, and drapes, shades or blinds that are easier to keep free of dust.

Step 3 – Enclose your mattresses and pillows in zippered, dust-proof covers. If you don’t like plastic or vinyl, look for fabric allergy-impermeable covers.

Step 4 – Vacuum the carpeting and un-upholstered furniture frequently. Damp mop floors and walls. Attaching a HEPA filter, available at some vacuum stores and allergy supply companies
to your vacuum cleaner, will prevent some of that dust from circulating back into the air.

Step 5 – Take your area rugs and cushions outside and shake them vigorously, or beat them every week. Some people like to use an old tennis racket.

Step 6 – Don’t just move the dust around with a feather duster or dry rags – capture it! Use damp rags, or, spray rags with a product that will hold the dust.

Step 7 – Wash sheets and blankets in hot water every week. Cold water leaves up to 10% of dust mites behind. Dry cleaning also kills mites.

Step 8 – Install a HEPA air filter on your furnace, or, purchase a central air filtration unit if you have forced air heating and cooling. A portable HEPA filter unit may also help remove dust from the air.

Did you know? A typical, used mattress can have up to 10 million dust mites inside!

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Aug 23

Learn How To Deal With Mosquitoes

How To Deal With Mosquitoes (courtesy of Howcast)

Nothing can ruin a beautiful, summer day faster than being attacked by blood-thirsty mosquitoes the moment you step outside! Although it might be impossible to eradicate them completely, you can fight back. You will need:

Repellent containing DEET
Yellow Light Bulbs
Fan

Optional:

Mosquito fish or larvicide
CO2 trapping device
Insecticide

Always use extreme caution when using insecticides. Follow the directions on the label.

Step 1: To get rid of mosquitoes, you must eliminate any standing water around your home. That’s where they breed. Things like flower pots, recycling bins, puddles, or even a small, overturned lid can result in thousands of mosquitoes. Do you have a bird bath? Change the water every couple of days. Be sure to treat swimming pools, and ask your neighbors to do the same. Stock ponds with mosquito fish, which feed on the larvae, or use a mosquito larvicide product.

Step 2: Mow your lawn frequently, and try to reduce vegetation around your house, which is where mosquitoes live.

Step 3: Make sure all of your windows and doors are kept tightly sealed. Screens should be 16 to 18 mesh. Any holes or tears should be repaired immediately.

Step 4: Replace outdoor lights with yellow bulbs. They’re not repellents, but they attract fewer mosquitoes than regular lighting.

Step 5: If you have to be outside – particularly dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active, wear long sleeves and trousers, if possible. Either apply a repellent containing DEET, or appy Picaridin, or Oil of Lemon-Eucalyptus…the only repellents considered by the Center for Disease Control and Protection to be both safe for young children and effective. Contrary to popular belief, eating garlic does not repel mosquitoes, eating bananas does not attract them, and, burning citronella candles is only slightly more effective than burning any kind of candle!

Step 6 – Direct a fan to blow on you when you’re outside, or, if you have a mosquito trapped inside that you can’t catch. Mosquitoes aren’t strong fliers, so it will make it difficult to land on you. Try to avoid shady areas, where mosquitoes tend to rest, even in the heat of the day.

Step 7 – Consider trying a mosquito-trapping device that lures the bugs with CO2. They can work. Although whether it captures enough mosquitoes to make a noticeable difference depends on many variables – even including the particular species of mosquito in your area. Don’t waste your money on ultrasonic devices or bug zappers. Ultrasonic simply doesn’t work, and zappers have been proven to result in no significant difference in the overall amount of mosquitoes in the yard.

Step 8: Mosquitoes can carry such diseases as Encephalitis, Malaria and West Nile Virus. If you’re in an infected area, consider spraying the heavy foliage near your house with pesticides; although, given the health risks, this should be a last-ditch effort.

Did you know? Mosquitoes can sense the lactic acid on your skin and the carbon dioxide in your breath from up to 100 feet away!

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Jul 05

Learn How To Always Be On Time

How To Train Yourself To Be On Time (courtesy of Howcast.com)

In the immortal words of Benjamin Franklin, Time Is Money – Spend It Wisely! You will need:

An online calendar or day planner, and

A watch.

Step 1 – Schedule only commitments that are important, and learn to say no to others. Use one, main online calendar or day planner. Schedule events after rush hour and other off-peak times, so traffic doesn’t make you wait.

Step 2 – Set email or text reminders that set intervals on your online calendar. Give yourself a reminder 1 hour before, and 15 minutes before an event.

Step 3 – If you have a 2:00 appointment, enter it in your schedule at 1:50. Have extra work on hand to keep busy if you’re early.

Step 4 – Add 25% to the time you think you’ll need to get where you’re going, or to finish a job.

Step 5 – Lay out your clothes, lunch, keys, and anything else you’ll need for the day, the night before. If you wake up late, you’ll probably still be on time.

Step 6 – Keep your gas tank above ¼ full at all times. Always have at least $20 on hand so unplanned expenses don’t hold you up.

Step 7 – Wear a watch, or bring your phone everywhere you go so you’ll always know the time!

Did you know? There are 17 million meetings in America on an average day!

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Jun 22

Learn How To Reuse Everyday Items

Learn How To Reuse Everyday Items (courtesy of Howcast.com )

Your friends might think you’ve gone totally gonzo for green, but learning to put household items to surprising recycled uses, saves you money and helps the environment. You will need:

A commitment to recycling
An Ability to think outside the box

Step 1 – Don’t automatically discard your morning newspapers. Use it in place of paper towels to clean glass and mirrors. It doesn’t leave streaks. Shred it to make packing material, use it as a fire starter, wrap gifts with it.

Step 2 – Save plastic produce bags to pick up dog poop, use them as trash bags in your car, and wrap your clothes in them when you travel, to protect against dirty shoes and leaking toiletries. A neat way to store plastic produce bags is to stuff them in an empty cardboard tissue box.

Step 3 – Hold on to greeting cards. Even the craft-challenged can cut up old cards to make gift tags and postcards. Or, tear off the cover and use the blank side to write out your to-do list, instead of wasting notepaper.

Step 4 – Don’t throw out old mouse pads. Instead, use them as knee pads when you garden or clean the tub. Put them under hot dishes, or, cut them into pieces and glue under furniture legs to protect wood floors. Prepare file folders for reuse in advance, by putting a piece of clear tape over the tab before you add a label. When it’s time to store something else in the folder, the old label will peel off easily.

Step 5 – Re-use junk mail envelopes for your own mail. Just slap a label over the see-through window or pre-printed address. If the envelope has a bar code at the bottom, run a black marker through it.

Step 6 – Don’t dump the water you use to cook vegetables…water your plants with it! Bonus – it’s filled with nutrients!

Did you know? Between Thanksgiving and New Years’ Day, Americans generate an extra 5 million tons of trash!

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Jun 22

Learn How To Seal A Bag Of Chips

Learn How to Seal a Bag of Chips Without a Clip (courtesy of howcast.com)

Twist-ties and bag clips are for sissies! Here’s how to keep an open bag of chips fresh – with your bare hands! You will need:

An open bag of chips
Two Hands

Step 1 – Squeeze the air out of the bag by flattening it.

Step 2 – Roll the top of the bag all the way down, to just above the chips.

Step 3 – Fold back an inch or two on each side of the bag. Use your thumbs to keep the corners pinned to the bag so ends won’t unroll.

Step 4 – Unroll the middle of the fold while also turning it partly inside out and wedging the corners underneath. It might take some practice, but you’ll get it!

Did you know? Potato chips were invented by a chef in Saratoga Springs, New York, when a customer complained that his fried potatoes weren’t thin enough!

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May 17

Learn How To Do Home Repair

Top 10 Home Repairs (courtesy of Coldwell Banker and ReelProductions.tv)

Hi! We’re here with John Molke, the housing guru, and John is gonna give us the Top 10 home repair tips for homeowners. So, John, we’re gonna start with #10 – tell us what it is.

Well, one of the things that’s critical, I think, for homeowners to always understand is the location of their furnace filter. Often neglected, the furnace filter is easy to forget because it’s usually in a location that’s hard to access. So, it’s a good idea to keep it changed. It will extend the life of the furnace, and will also make the unit operate much more efficiently, making it warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

That’s perfect – that’s a good tip! Let’s move right on to #9.

Homeowners need to understand a little of the basics of caulking. Outside the house, caulking begins to break down after a year or so. It’s a good idea to understand how to do a little bit of caulking. Just look for those places to keep down the infiltration of air from the outside, and there again, making your home more comfortable.

Going onto the next one would be caulking again, on the inside of the house. Understanding bathroom caulk. Doing a little sealing so that you don’t have to worry about water penetrating the area around your bathtub, shower and so forth. Anywhere that you have cracks in the grout and so forth, can be sealed with caulk.

So, simple caulking, #8 and #9. Let’s move on to #7, then.

I would say, homeowners need to understand about leaky faucets. It’s easy today for homeowners to go to the big box stores – the home centers, and get the repair items necessary to stop a leaky faucet. The instructions are right there on the package, so many homeowners are choosing to do those themselves. You’ll not waste water and you’ll avoid the irritation of a leaky faucet!

And, we all want that! What’s #6, John?

Understanding how to unstop clogged drains. One of the things I recommend is that people pour a cup of white vinegar down their shower drain, in their bathroom sink, once a week, and that will help keep your drain clean.

What is #5?

Homeowners need to understand the location and operation of their electric panel – where those circuit breakers are located, what they control. Hopefully, they’re marked, but, if they’re not, try to work with someone to get them marked properly so that you understand how to re-set a tripped circuit breaker.

Alright, #4…

I recommend that people know how to fix a squeaky door. You can pop the hinge pin out and put a little vaseline on it. It’s a very easy repair, and you put those hinge pins back in, the squeak will be stopped – normally for a year or two.

Alright, moving on, now – we’re at the Top 3 Tips that every homeowner needs to know.

Homeowners need to know the location of their water cut-off valve. You have a cut-off valve in your water meter box outside. It’s a good idea to look at it and just understand. It requires a special key, but you can buy that key at the big box store, at the home centers. It’s a good idea to know the location of every single cut-off valve in your house, should you have a break in a plumbing pipe.

Tip #2?

You need to understand drainage. A little bit about drainage…I use what I call the basketball theory of drainage. Drop a basketball next to your foundation. If it rolls away, you have good drainage. If it rolls next to the house, you have a problem, and that can cause basement leaks, mold, mildew problems, foundation cracking, settling problems. So, it’s very important to understand all the aspects of drainage.

Alright, John, that brings us to our #1 home repair tip. What is it?

You need to keep your house from exploding. Exploding houses are not a good idea!

That’s a pretty good tip!

Your water heater has a safety valve. Many of you may have heard that, occasionally, homes
do explode because the water heater explodes. It builds up too much pressure. Some of the older houses, the pressure valve may have gone bad, or it may not even have a pressure valve! Make sure that you understand where the pressure valve is located, on top of your water heater. You can actually test it. You can lift the little lever to make sure that it’s working properly. And that drains to a line outside your house, into a visible location, so if you see water coming out of that drain, that means the pop-off valve has failed and needs to be replaced.

John, thank you so much – these are great tips! We want to thank the housing guru, John Molke, for all of the Top 10 home repair tips that every homeowner should know!

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Apr 25

Learn How To Put On A Slipcover

Learn How To Put on a Slipcover (courtesy of PotteryBarn.com)

Our loose-fit slipcovers are designed to let you re-invent your sofa, simply and affordably. Tailored from easy-to-clean, high quality fabrics, they’re easy to use.

First, take seat and back cushions off your sofa. Unfold the sofa base slipcover and locate the tag that says Back on the slipcover. Loosely drape the slipcover over the base of your sofa, using the tag as a guideline, while centering the skirt pleat at the front of the base.

Begin to customize fit by aligning the slipcover over the sofa arms, pull the slipcover snugly over the front ends and top of arms while leaving the backstraps unattached. Determine the desired length of the front and back of the slipcover. Adjust the front and back length by accumulating all excess fabric on the seat. Note: the slipcover is designed to fit a variety of
furniture styles; as a result, there may be more fabric than you need. Tuck any extra fabric into the crevasses of the sofa base, while leaving enough fabric on the front of the sofa to the desired length.

Place the seat cushions back on the covered sofa frame, and place the fitted elastic, separate seat slipcover over the cushions. Tuck any excess fabric under the seat cushions.

Face the back side of your sofa, and flip the back panel of the base slipcover down, so that you are able to replace the back seat cushions underneath the fabric. Replace the base slipcover over the sofa. Tuck in any excess fabric into the back cushions and re-adjust the fabric on the back of the sofa so it drapes to your liking.

Re-center the skirt and pleat at the front of the sofa. Locate the straps on the slipcover skirt. Wrap the skirt around the base of your furniture. Secure the straps in the back with metal D rings on the slipcover and tighten. Smooth fabric to create an attractive, finished look. Wrinkles will disappear over time, once you have fitted the slipcover. A warm iron can be run over the slipcover to smooth out wrinkles as well.

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Apr 07

Learn How To Fix A Leaky Faucet

Learn How To Fix A Leaky Faucet (courtesy of ExpertVillage.com)

If your faucet is dripping, you really want to get that fixed, because it adds up to a high water bill over time. And it’s really very simple. A lot of people are intimidated by it, but it’s not very complicated at all.

Most of you probably don’t have a faucet that looks like this one, but that’s ok because it will work the same way, even if you have one that sits on top of the back of the sink.

The first thing you want to do is shut off the water supply to the faucet, primarily through your shut-off valves under the sink…the knobs that feed the hoses that come up and feed the faucet. Now, in my case, I don’t have those, and I had to cut it off at the curb. So, once the water supply is shut off, then I can safely take these valves out and not worry about water spraying everywhere.

The first thing you want to do is remove the handle, which is the first step, always. Sometimes the screw that holds the handle in place is hidden under a little cap that maybe says C and H for the cold and hot water. Those will pop off pretty easily. And then once you’ve exposed the screw, you remove the screw and then you lift the handle. It may not come off this easily; you hay have to wiggle the handle and whatnot, but it will come off. You don’t want to pry it, though…you don’t want to force it off.

The next thing you want to do is remove the stem, which is this interior mechanism here that controls the flow of water, and you’ll need a crescent wrench to turn this and loosen it. Once you do, it should come off pretty easily.

The culprit, 99% of the time, with a drippy faucet, is a worn washer at the very bottom of the stem, which presses against the seat and shuts off the flow of water. It’s almost always the cold water side, too, which is the side that receives the most use.

Once you see that this is the problem, you can take this entire mechanism to your local hardware store and they will actually take this apart for you and put the new washer on. Which saves you a lot of time and effort.

And then once that’s replaced, all you have to do is just reverse the process, screwing this back into place. And then giving it a little turn to tighten it with a crescent wrench – you don’t want to force it too far – and then simply put the handle back on, the screw in place, and you’re fixed!

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Mar 30

Learn How To Hem Pants While Keeping The Original Hem

Learn How to Hem Pants while Keeping the Original Hem (courtesy of LaycieDo)

Hi, Everyone! Welcome to LaycieDo! I’m Lacie, and this is what I do!

I’m sure many of us have had the problem of buying a pair of pants, and then later realizing we need it to be a little bit shorter. Today, I’m going to show you how to hem pants that have a hem that you don’t want to lose, I guess you would say. I want the pants to be shorter, but maintain this look at the bottom.

This pair has already been hemmed. You can tell that this is what the pants looked like on the bottom when I bought them, but they have been shortened, and there’s a tiny seam above the original hem. And, so, you get to keep the look of how they were at the store.

The pants we’re gonna be hemming today, they have a double-stitched, white hem, and, um, I’m only taking about 2 inches off of them. So if I was just to cut them, I would have to cut in the middle of this hem and they just wouldn’t look good. So what I’m gonna do is cut right above the hem and show you how to keep the original, store-bought-looking hem.

Here is what you’re gonna need:

A pair of pants that you want to hem
A measuring tape
A razor cutter and ruler, and
Scissors

The first thing we’re gonna do is lay the pants out flat and cut the hem that we want to keep, off, along with a quarter-inch to half-inch seam, whatever your preference. I’m gonna go with the ½ inch. I’m just going to cut ½ inch directly above, from the point where I want my seam to be. And you’re gonna have your seam be at the very top of the hem you’re keeping. Like, on this pair of denim jeans, the seam we’re gonna sew is right above the stitch mark and the folded hem that was originally on the pants. So, even though the stitch mark is right here, the fold of the original hem is right here – you can feel it with your finger. I’m just gonna cut ½ an inch above that.

Now, what I have here is the original hem of the pants, long width, for extra fabric or seam allowance. I’m just gonna turn that inside out, and put it aside. And I’m gonna do the same to the opposite leg. This is only gonna work if you need to hem your pants at least an inch. If they need to be hemmed less than an inch, this is probably not gonna work out, because if I’m using ½ inch seam allowance, then, right there I’m already taking an inch off the pants.

Now that I’ve cut both of the hems off, I’m gonna measure the inseam of the pant I have left without the hem, and I’m also gonna measure the hem piece that I have. I want my inseam to be 30 inches, so I have to do a little math here to figure out how many inches I need to cut off the pants so that when I sew it to the hem it will be 30 inches. 21/4 inches is how long the inseam on the pants are. The hem, not including my seam allowance, is 2 ¼ inches. If, what I have for my hem is 2 ¼ inches, and my inseam is currently 29 ¼ inches, I need to factor in for my ½ inch seam allowance, which brings my inseam to 28 ¾. So, 28 ¾ plus the 2 ¼ here, brings my total to 31 inches. I need to cut one inch off this (bottom of pants), because I want my inseam to be 30 inches. So, since I have a cutting mat, I’m just gonna align my cut right up on the line, and I’m gonna cut an inch off. If you’re using scissors, just go ahead and use your measuring tape and just mark a little dot, at an inch, all across, and you can just use a ruler or something to mark a line. Then you can cut on the line! But, if you like to sew a lot, it’s really handy to have a razor and a ruler, it just saves you so much time, and you get such clean cuts. So, here’s the inch that we’re throwing away. Do that on both legs.

Alright, now that we’ve done that, we’re ready to sew the hem to the pants. And what you’re gonna do is just turn the hem inside out, and you’re gonna place it, right sides together, on the end of the pants leg. I’m matching up the side seams – I’m just gonna stick a pin in here. So just go ahead and pin your hem to both legs. Then, go over to your sewing machine!

Alright, we’re here at the machine, and I’m going to remove my regular presser foot and put on my zipper foot, because the zipper foot is gonna allow us to get right up to this hem – to make our job look anything but home-sewn! Now, I like to start my stitching on the side where we’ve got our seams matched up, because we want our seam from the pant to match the seam onto the hem. And let’s go ahead and sew these babies up! See, we’re gonna be able to sew right up to this line, and that’s what we’re gonna use as our guide. And, we have our first leg done! But, let’s get this other one done.

OK, now, we’re done, And we have a raw edge right here. And if you have a surger or raw edge machine, go ahead and run that over this. Or, you can also just do a zigzag stitch. Put your regular foot back on and run a zigzag over that so it won’t fray. I have a surger, so I’m gonna go ahead and surge that real quick and then we’re gonna take these over and iron them. So, here we are at the surger. Now, we have hemmed and surged, ready for the iron.

OK, now, I’m gonna turn the pants inside out and I’m gonna iron the hem. OK, now I’ve ironed both the pant legs, on this side, and coming in through here. But now, I want to make sure that through washings and wearings that this hem isn’t just gonna fall down/turn down, whatever, so I’m gonna stitch it real quick in a few spots.

OK, so we’re back to the machine, and we’re just gonna do a little stitch on the front center, back center, and on each side, to hold that seam up, so it doesn’t come falling down. So, I’m just gonna use a zigzag stitch. Probably width about 2, and stitch length, zero, because I just want it to be one little stitch. Obviously, you want to use the same color thread or something that is gonna blend in if you have denim or whatever. So, I’m just gonna do a little stitch right here, which will be barely noticeable but it will hold up the pant seam. So, I’m gonna do that front center, and on each side, and on the back center.

Tah Dah! All done. So, see, that hem looks pretty good…much better than just cutting and trying to sew your own new hem. You’ve just shortened the leg, and kept the original pant bottom. Yea!!

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Mar 22

Learn How To Repair Drywall

How To Repair Drywall (courtesy of Howdini.com)

Hi! I’m Lisa Birnbach of Howdini.com. You know that hole in your wall that’s driving you crazy every time you walk past it? Well, Ed DelGrande is here to tell us how to fix it! He’s the author of House Call. How are you?

I’m doing great! I may be good, but, your wall is not good! You know, a lot of people ask me, “Ed, when do you know it’s time to use a patch instead of just spackling a smaller hole?”

I would just sell the house for that hole…

No…well, here’s the rule of thumb. Matter of fact, we’re gonna use a finger, so it’s close to a thumb! When you stick your finger in a hole, that’s big enough to qualify for a patch, so we’re gonna patch this for you right now.

OK, what are patches made out of?

Well, first, you could buy this kit for under $10 – it makes it very easy. See, it comes with the spackle, you also have your putty knives, and then you do have the patches included. So, I would get one of these kits, keep it around the house – you can use it over and over!

OK! And, so, in that one kit, you have everything you need?

Everything you need! Matter fact, I opened up another kit already, and here’s the main thing you need right here, is the patch.

Which is made out of what?

It’s a mesh…and that will actually hold the spackle in place. And plus…feel that. Feel how it’s tacky? It will stick right to the wall for you. But, before you stick it on the wall, you gotta prepare the wall. That’s the pro trick! Get a knife – if you’ve got a razor knife or a sharp knife – and just get all of the loose stuff out of there. Now the patch has something to stick to.

And that was enough?

Yea! That was enough. Remember, this is tacky. You just wanna cover that hole. And use that hole for a bullseye. Put it right in the middle. And, see how it’s lookin’ better already? Then, just push that in place.

Now I can have people over for dinner!

Well yeah, good! See, you’re learning already! You just stuck that up there nice and tight!

Now Ed, you don’t have to trim the patch?

No, because remember, we’re gonna go over that with the spackle, and if you really wanna stick it down, here’s another pro trick. If you just use the putty knife itself to get it good and tight to that wall. Now, here’s the magic spackle! This is my favorite spackle. You can see it’s pink…
Radioactive Pink!

Well, no, not radioactive! But, that pink is a very important color, you know why?

Why?

When it’s wet, it’s pink. When it’s white, it means it’s dry, and you can sand it. Plus, you can see what you’re doing to the wall. Now, watch this. We just got a nice glob of it right here. Start where the hole is, and you’re gonna feather it out. Now, see what I’m doin’ here? It’ll drop – don’t worry. Use some drop cloths, it’ll come off. And this will really get in to all that mesh screen. See how I’m working it in? It takes some practice before you actually go to the wall to your fixings…

But, this is important…you’ve done this a million times! You are biologically a man. But, for people like me who’ve never done this, is is gonna be this easy?

Yes, it should be this easy. Maybe not as quick. That’s the only difference between a pro and an amateur..the pros are just a little quicker!

So, Ed, we just went to the movies – we’re back. The thing is white and dry.

Well, now you’re ready for sanding. And then, once you sand it, wipe it down with a damp cloth and then you can paint it, But, remember Lisa, the paint has to match the walls for that hole to really disappear!

Oh, right! OK! But, you really think I can do this myself?

Absolutely!

And the hole is gone…

It’s gone for good!

OK – thanks so much, Ed!

You’re welcome!

For Howdini.com, I’m Lisa Birnbach!

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Mar 18

Learn How To Sharpen A Knife With A Stone

How To Sharpen A Knife With A Stone (courtesy of Howcast.com)

Sharp knives can cut your prep time in half, and, believe it or not, they’re actually safer than dull knives! They’re less likely to slip. You will need:

Sharpening stone
A bowl of water large enough to hold the stone
Kitchen towel
A flat, stable surface
Dull knife
A honing steel or ceramic sharpening rod

Step 1: Soak the sharpening stone in a bowl of water for 5 minutes. Avoid oil stones. They are difficult to use correctly, even for culinary professionals.

Step 2: Remove the stone from the water and place it on a towel on a stable surface. Make sure the course side faces up.

Step 3: If you’re sharpening a chef’s knife, hold it semi-parallel against the stone, at a 20 degree angle, with one hand on the handle and the other on the top part of the blade. The 20° angle should be about the width of a matchbook, or even smaller for knives that require a thinner edge.

Step 4: Starting with the base of the knife, called the heel, draw the blade sideways along the stone, while pulling the blade towards you, so that the point of contact slides from the heel to the tip. Apply moderate pressure, especially when working on this course side of the stone. Keep your fingertips on the top edge of the blade to maintain the angle.

Step 5: Repeat this motion in the following pattern: 10 times on each side, then 5, then 3. Then, single strokes, alternating between right and left 6 times. You should be able to feel with your fingernail carefully, that a rough burr has developed on the edge. Knives with thinner edges might take slightly longer to sharpen. They are typically made from harder carbon steel than the softer steel that most western chef’s knives are made from.

Step 6: Turn the water stone over to fine-tune and polish the edge. Repeat the sharpening motion with a slightly lighter touch. A course edge wears more quickly than a polished edge, but it is good for slicing items that have a tough skin but delicate flesh, like tomatoes and fish.

Step 7: Rinse the blade.

Step 8: For an even more polished edge, finish up with a few draws along a honing steel, making sure to draw the blade at the same angle as before, and with a similar sharpening motion. Now, slice away with your new, Samuari-sharp blade!

Did you know? Samurai warriors used wooden swords during practice to preserve the edges of their metal swords!

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Mar 17

Learn How To Make Curtains

How To Make Curtains At Home (courtesy of Threadbanger.com)

Hey Threadheads! Welcome to my Brooklyn nest, and to Threadbanger’s new, DIY home re-fashion show.

I’m a DIYer with a passion for green living and eclectic home décor. Recently, it was brought to my attention that some Threadheads are experiencing some DIY home décor dilemmas. Never Fear – Meg Is Here!

Jasmine recently wrote in her nest’s need for a new curtain. Over on the forum, Sew It Together and Aurora 199 said that they have the same issue. Let’s see what we can do to help you guys out! One of my favorite design blogs, Apartment Therapy, highlighted this cool, branch curtain rod from DIYIdeas.com. Here’s How to DIY your Curtains!

Measure your window across and down.

Find a branch to go across the top.

At your local hardware store, pick up 2 metal loops that your branch will fit through, and use your handy dandy power drill to screw those puppies in!

Now, choose fabric. 2 of my favorite sources for fabric are ReproDepot.com and Etsy.com.

Measure and cut your fabric.

Fold and pin edges.

Sew along edges of fabric.

Cut out 4 to 5 pieces for your tabs.

Take your pieces and fold them in half, good sides together, and pin.

Sew along 2 edges and flip right side out.

Fold and press down and sew a top stitch along your edges.

Now, attach your loops.

To make a dart, pinch your fabric, sew a diagonal line, snip, fold down the flaps and sew a top stitch. And now, you have yourself a dart!

Now, put your branch through the loops, and, Voila – new curtain!

Do you have any DIY home décor projects? Well, send them in! The most unique ones will be featured on the threadbanger blog, and over on my blog, EnderbyNest.com. And, one lucky threadhead will win a fantastic, home detox kit from Methodhome.com!

This week’s Quick Tip is How To Mull Spices. Just take a retro pot, fill it with water, add your favorite organic spices – my favorites are cinnamon and cloves. Put on a light simmer, stir, and you’re mulling spices! Remember, style starts at home! Join us next week for another DIY home décor project that you can make your own. Your nest needs you!

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Mar 08

Learn How To Remove Scratches From Hardwood Floors

How To Get Scratches From Hardwood Floors (courtesy of ExpertVillage.com)

Hi! I’m Tim Gibson, and I’m gonna talk to you about how to get scratches out of your hardwood floors. Now, whether it’s an engineered floor – hardwood floor – such as this, or a solid wood floor, the surface is pretty much the same. So, you know, if you have those instances where somebody has moved back a chair and you get a scratch, then there’s some different things you can do without having to refinish the entire floor to take care of that.

Now, first and foremost, most of your hardwood floor products come with some type of a cleaner and a cleaner buffing agent, such as this. So, in most cases, if it’s a really light scratch, you can just use this with a soft, white cloth. In most cases you can either spray it directly on, or spray it on the cloth, and you simply rub. And, this will actually clean and buff the area to get some of those scratches out.

Now, there are some other after market value products that you can put on here, that are specifically formulated to hide surface scratches. Now, if you get some deeper scratches, what you may need to do is, actually get a urethane or a shellac…actually, shellac works very well. And, what you do is, you take some shellac, you cut it with a little bit of denatured alcohol to make a real thin mixture, and then you just take an artist’s paintbrush and paint it into the crack. And then, you let that dry, and then you come back and repeat. Now, after you’ve repeated putting the shellac in there, if you can still see the scratch, then you come back and do it a third time.

Now, if you have a really, deep gouge or something like that, you can also use a product like beeswax. You melt the beeswax into it, sand it lightly and buff it. Use a buffing compound and, again, the cleaning compound, and those are some typical ways that you can take care of scratches in hardwood floors!

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Jan 17

Learn How To Polish Silver

Learn How To Polish Silver (courtesy of MyHomeIdeas.com)

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Nov 04

Learn How To Decorate Your Thanksgiving Dinner Table

How To Decorate Your Thanksgiving Table (courtesy of Better.com)

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Oct 26

Learn How To Rid Your Home Of Spiders

How To Rid Your Home Of Spiders (courtesy of Howcast.com)

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Oct 08

Learn How To Get Rid Of Fruit Flies

How To Get Rid Of Fruit Flies (courtesy of Chow.com)

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Aug 13

Learn How To Tile

How To Tile A Bathroom Wall (courtesy of HomeDepot.com)

For variety and durability, tile is an excellent choice. In addition to giving your home a great look, it also helps protect the walls and floors from various kinds of damage. Tiling gives homeowners and easy, affordable way to add charm and beauty to their homes, with results that rival those of tiling professionals. The Home Depot is here to provide the products and guidance you need to achieve those professional looking results. In our first demonstration, we’ll install wainscot tile, with a cap, in a bathroom.

The first step is to measure the tile. Place 10 tiles, side by side, and measure the length of the row. Divide by 10, and use the resulting number as the tile dimensions for your layout.

Using a level, draw a top line all the way around the room. If you’re tiling only part way up the wall, this line should be where the tiles will stop. If you’re adding a row of cap tiles like we are, draw a horizontal line for those as well.

Now, measure from the floor to the top line, and mark a mid-height line halfway in between. Then, measure from the floor to the top line again, and divide by the size of the tile. If you end up with less than a full tile as your remainder, shift the mid-height line down by that amount, so, you’ll have a row of full tiles at the top and a row of partial tiles at the bottom.

Draw a new, mid-height line around the room, making sure it’s level. Measure the width of each wall, and mark the mid-point on the top line. Using a level, extend this line to the floor.

Now, measure from this line to one end of the wall, and divide by the size of the tile. If the last row of tiles will be less than a half a tile wide, shift the mid-point, so the last row of tile on both ends of the wall will be of equal width, and draw a new line.

Using a chalk line, snap additional vertical and horizontal lines to create a grid of 8 to 12 square foot rectangles on the wall. When this is done, get ready to start tiling!

Start by fastening a level 1×2 or 1×3 wooden batten, just below the mid-height line. Double-check to make sure it’s level. The batten will keep your first row of tiles straight, which will make the rest of the tiles on the wall straight, as well.

Mix your latex, modified, thin-set mortar, as instructed in the Techniques section of “Tiling 1-2-3”.

Using a square-notch trowel, apply mortar to one of the marked grids along the top of the batten, and comb it into straight, vertical ridges.

Press the first few, full tiles in place above the batten. Use a slight, twisting motion to be sure it makes good contact with the mortar. Do NOT slide the tiles!

After you’ve done 3 or 4 tiles, lift one off and check the back. The mortar should cover the entire surface. If it’s in rows, the trowel ridges on the wall aren’t thick enough. Scrape the mortar off the wall and reapply it, using a trowel with a larger notch. Work up and out, in a stair step pattern. Take your time, and work on the wall in manageable, 8-12 square foot sections. Save any tile that must be cut, last. If any mortar oozes up between the tiles, clean it up before it dries.

Continue until all but the top row of cap tiles are in place. Finish by placing the row of cap tiles along the top of the tiled area. When you’re done, let the mortar cure for at least 12 hours, and remove the batten.

Working from the middle, out and down, set the rest of the tiles. Support each tile with a piece of masking tape attached to the tile above it.

Let the mortar dry completely. Each type of mortar has a different curing time. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Grout is the material that fills the space between the tiles and supports them, almost like glue. Grouting is messy, so be sure you properly cover any areas that you don’t want to get dirty.

Before you start, remove any excess mortar with a razor blade or a putty knife. Using a margin trowel, mix the powdered grout with the liquid and apply it. Skim the excess grout off with the edge of the float. To avoid digging into the joints, move the float diagonally across the tiles.

The grout will set up in about 5 to 15 minutes, and have a putty-like consistency. When a thumbnail pressed against it doesn’t leave an impression, the grout is hard enough for the final cleaning.

With a damp sponge, wipe the tiles diagonally, to clean them. Rinse the sponge frequently in clean water. The sponging process will leave a haze on the tile. To remove it, wipe the surface with a damp rag, then with a clean, dry rag. Repeat this process, until the tile is as reflective as glass. Holding a lamp to the surface will help you check it.

Cure the grout, and let it set thoroughly before applying sealant. The curing process is very important – do not skip this step!

Once the grout is cured, apply sealer with a sponge. Sealing tile grout gives it greater water and mildew resistance, and helps keep it from getting dirty. Make sure to wipe off any drips before the sealer dries. And, if you’re using unglazed tile, seal it as well.

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Jul 06

How to Replace a Bathroom Toilet

How To Replace A Bathroom Toilet (courtesy of HomeDepot.com)

The next time you’re remodeling, or sprucing up the bathroom in your home, consider replacing your old toilet, along with the other fixtures. It’s easier than you think! And, with today’s wide range of color and design choices, there’s bound to be one that will fit your new look.

Now, before you go shopping, you need to measure the distance from the wall to the floor bolts. If it measure 12 inches, you’re in luck! You have a standard toilet. Sometimes, especially in older homes, this varies – so, know before you go! Once you’ve made your decision and brought your new toilet home, it’s time to remove the existing one.

First things first! You want to turn the water off at the supply valve, and flush the toilet to empty the tank.

Now, remove any water left in the tank or bowl with a sponge and some rags. And be sure to wear some rubber gloves to protect against bacteria.

Now, once the toilet’s dry, remove the tank bolts and disconnect the water supply line.

Now, straddle the bowl, and lift the tank UP off the bowl. And be sure you lift with your legs. These things can be pretty heavy!

With the tank removed, it’s time to work on the bowl. Remove the decorative caps that cover the floor bolts. And, use a socket or adjustable wrench to remove the nuts.

Once the bolts are off, rock the bowl back and forth, until the wax seal underneath is broken, and lift the bowl up off the floor.

Scrape away any remaining wax with a putty knife, and plug up the drain opening with a rag, so you don’t have sewer gases wafting up into your home.

OK! Now for the new toilet!

You may want to start by replacing the existing flange around the drain opening. Or, at least, replace the mounting bolts.

Then, fit a new, wax ring around the base of the toilet. Now, for the tricky part!

Lift the bowl up, and line the toilet up over the anchor bolts. Once the bolts are fed through the holes, rock the bowl back and forth, to seat the wax ring, and then hand-tighten the nuts.

Insert shingles where needed, to make the bowl level, and then tighten the bolts up with an adjustable wrench. Tighten the bolts gradually, alternating from one bolt to the other. And be sure you don’t over-tighten, and crack through the bowl.

Cover the bolts with the supplied caps, and place the tank on the bowl. Guide the tank bolts into the corresponding holes. Tighten the bolts, but don’t over-tighten.

Install the toilet valve assembly.

Reconnect the water supply.

Caulk around the base.

And, you’re all set!

So, the next time you take on a bathroom makeover, consider including a new toilet on your shopping list!

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Jun 09

How To Remove Wallpaper

How To Remove Wallpaper (courtesy of Lowes.com)

When you start to remodel a room, you don’t want anything to get in your way, especially old wallpaper. We’ll show you how to remove old wall covering so you walls and your room are ready for anything, whether it’s a fresh coat of paint or new wallpaper. Let’s get to work!

This bedroom is going to get a new look, and we’re gonna do the renovation in small steps, that will have a big impact. The first step is removing the wallpaper, which can be quite simple. All you need are a few tools and a little patience, to let those tools do their work. You will need:

A Scoring Tool
A Scraper or Broadknife
A Screwdriver
Low Tack Painter’s Tape
Wallpaper Stripper
A Paint Brush
Paint Roller
Roller Cover and Paint Tray
Drop Cloths
A Garbage Can and Bags
A Stepstool or Ladder
A Bucket and Sponge
Dishsoap or TSP Cleaner
Wallpaper Primer/Sealer or Interior Paint Primer

You can also use a wallpaper steamer. Since we’ll be working with removal strippers, we’ll need to wear eye protection and rubber gloves. You can find detailed steps and a tool list in our printable instructions at Lowes.com/videos.

Start off by prepping the space. Move any furniture away from the walls, and cover everything with drop cloths. Also, make sure you use canvas drop cloths on the floors, since plastic can get pretty slippery.

Remove all window treatments and electrical covers.

Also, turn off the power to the electrical outlets in the room, and apply low tack tape over them, or any other surface you don’t want to get stripper on. And, if you’re going to use wallpaper stripper, be sure to have adequate ventilation.

Now, score the paper. You want to start in a 3×3 test section, starting with the ceiling, and preferably along a seam. A scoring tool creates hundreds of tiny holes in the paper, which allows the wallpaper stripper to penetrate and loosen the adhesive backing.

Then, generously spray or roll on the stripper, using a paint roller to apply it to the walls. Now, here’s where your patience comes in. Allow the stripper to set on the walls according to the manufacturer’s instructions – typically about 15 minutes. And, trust me – you definitely don’t want to shortcut this step! Now, if the paper stripper starts to dry, you’ll have to reapply it, so make sure the area stays wet.

Another option is to use a steamer. Again, have patience, and keep the steamer tight against the wall. And be careful, because steam is very hot. Now, after steaming the wallpaper, use a broadknife to lift a seam, and begin pulling the paper away at a 45° angle. Now, if the wallpaper was hung using a wallpaper primer/sealer, it should peel off easily, just like this. If it does, continue scoring and applying stripper or steaming, in sections about 4 feet wide, and remove the rest of the paper. Work from top to bottom, and always put the scraps in a heavy duty garage bag.

Now, if your wallpaper isn’t cooperating, you might have to troubleshoot. And, here’s a common problem – only the paper backing remains. Now, it’s easily fixed! Just apply some more stripper, wait the recommended time, and peel away!

Now, another common problem is paper that takes bits of drywall with it. This means the wall wasn’t primed properly, prior to application, and the adhesive is working a little too well. So, re-wet the surface, and try to carefully remove the paper. You might end up repairing the drywall. If so, watch “How To Repair Drywall” at Lowes.com/videos.

Now, once all the paper has been removed, you might notice a bit of paste residue or bits of paper backing still on the wall. Apply your wallpaper stripper again, working from top to bottom, around the room. Wait the recommended time, then, wash it off with soap and water. Repeat this step until all of the residue is removed.

Once the walls are clean, you’re ready for the next step. Now, if you’re painting, you’ll need to apply an interior primer. But, if you’re applying new wallpaper, like us, you’ll need to prep the walls. So, watch “How To Measure and Prep For Wallpaper”, at Lowes.com/videos. We’ll show you the key steps to making your wallpaper job a complete success!

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May 28

How to Install Recessed Lighting

How To Install Recessed Lighting (courtesy of DIYNetwork.com)

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May 12

How to Stain a Deck

How To Stain A Deck (courtesy of AskTheBuilder.com)

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Apr 28

How to Repair Cracks in Stucco

courtesy of RonFeltonshis.com)

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Apr 20

How to Make a No Sew Crib Skirt

How To Make A No-Sew Crib Skirt (courtesy of YoungHouseLove.com)

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Apr 15

How to Re-Grout Bathroom Tile

How To Re-Grout Bathroom Tile (courtesy of Housemaster.com)

Periodic maintenance of tile caulking and grouting is required to prevent water seepage, and consequential damage. The joint between the base of a tiled wall and the shower or bathtub is the area most likely to need attention on a regular basis.

Before beginning, it’s a good idea to add a cover over the tub or shower surface, to protect it from damage. All loose materials should be removed, and the tile cleaned and dried. Be careful, however, not to damage the tile. Use of a plastic scraper is recommended.

Grout is designed specifically for use as a filler between tiles. It should not be used at any joint where movement is possible.

For the typical repair job, a pre-mixed or tube-type is recommended. The grout should be applied liberally and forced into any gaps, using a sponge, trowel or, if suitable, your finger.

Remove any excess material.

Allow the grout to cure for the specified time, and then remove any residue, using a damp sponge or cloth.

Don’t allow the grout to fully set, as it will be difficult to remove!

Wiping at a diagonal will help maintain a uniform grout depth.

When totally dry, the tile should be polished with a dry cloth.

Caulk is a flexible sealer, intended for use at any joint between the tile and the fixture surface.

For small jobs, tube-type caulks are ideal.

The thickness of the joint to be caulked will determine the size of the bead.

In all cases, the caulk should be applied so that there is even coverage on both sides of the gap being sealed.

Hold down the tube at an angle, and lay down a continuous bead of caulk with long, steady strokes.

Depending on the particular product used, it can usually be smoothed out using either a wet finger, sponge, or special tool. Any excess caulk should be removed immediately.

Allow new caulk and grout to cure for the specified time, before using the fixture.

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Mar 17

How to Change a Furnance Filter

How To Change A Furnace Filter (courtesy of Dummies.com)

Dust, dirt, carpet fibers, pet dander…these are all of the things your furnace filter takes out of the air, to help keep your house cleaner, and help keep allergies under control. When your filter is working hard, your furnace is really efficient. And, without all that stuff in the airflow, the blower motor lasts longer. The filter also prevents the compressor coils from getting clogged. So, you’ll want to change the filter regularly.

Buy furnace filters a case at a time. It’s cheaper that way. Open the case, and label each one with the date that you plan to install it. Changing the filter is easy!

First, open or slide the door panel to get access to the furnace. You usually find the filter near where the cool air enters the furnace, in the cold air return duct, or at the entrance to the blower chamber. Or, sometimes, in both locations!

Next, slide out the old filter, and replace it with the new one. Make sure the airflow arrows on the side of the filter are pointing the right way – toward the blower, and away from the cold air.

Now, replace the panel or door.

Furnaces need attention, so you want to replace the filter every month during the heating season. And, if you have air conditioning in the system, then change the filter every month all year long.

A little preventive care increases the life of your furnace, and makes your house cleaner and fresher!

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Mar 15

How to Replace a Garage Door Spring

How To Replace A Garage Door Spring (courtesy of HabProGarageDoors.com)

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Mar 11

How to Install a Tile Backsplash

How To Install A Tile Backsplash (courtesy of Lowes.com)

Are you looking for a contemporary, clean update for your kitchen, that won’t bust your budget? Why not install a ceramic and glass tiled back splash? Glass tiles are beautiful, and they come in a wide variety of colors to match any décor. They’re also easy to install!

Start with a clean surface that’s free of dust and grime. Protect your countertops and your appliances by covering them with paper.

To determine the amount of tiles that you need, simply multiply the width by the height. I always like to buy a little extra, so I don’t run out before I finish the project!

Now, comes the fun part – the layout of our design! We selected the beautiful, white subway tile, which makes a statement on its own. But, by adding this aqua glass tile, it’s really gonna make it pop. Now, your glass tiles are typically sold in a sheet, like a 12 x 12 sheet, and they’re all attached with this net backing. And, this is really nice because you can just cut it apart with scissors. And you can either leave it in strips, or, you can cut them out individually, depending on your design. We’re gonna use it in the strip…and, just add a row, just like that. Isn’t that great? It just really makes that pop. Nice, sleek, modern look to it.

Now, to attach our tiles to our wall, we’re using a pre-mixed adhesive and a trowel. We’re just gonna this up with our putty knife. You do want to make sure that you read your manufacture’s instructions before using your adhesive. Get a nice, fair amount on your trowel, because this trowel is really going to work for us.

You can see I’ve already started this on my wall. We’re gonna go right up against our other pieces, and just gently pull our adhesive away. Now, I’m working in 12 inch sections, and this is great, because it’s a nice, manageable section for us. We don’t want everything to set up on us before we’re ready for it!

We’re gonna turn our trowel around, and, see this combed edge here? This is what’s gonna make sure that we have the proper amount of adhesive. See how that just pulls some of that off for us? And we’re gonna work from the bottom up. And the reason why we’re doing that is ’cause we’re using the top of our countertop to keep everything nice and level.

We’re gonna put this in place, push it down to the top of our counter. We’re ready for our next piece…we’re gonna do the same thing. And, we don’t need to worry about the spacing in between, because we’re going to use these handy little discs, which are called spacers. And they just slide right in to help us keep our spacing nice and even.

If you find yourself in a situation where you need to cut a piece of tile, maybe around an outlet or at the top of your cabinet, all you need to do is use a tile cutter. Let me show you how easy that is to use!

This right here is our tile cutter. Lay your piece down inside the cutter. And this part right here is actually our cutting wheel, and we’re going to push that across our tile. And listen for that score sound – here that sound? Let the feet come back down, apply a little bit of pressure and there we go. We’ve got a perfect cut! So, this is really a handy tool, especially for this job!

Allow the tiles to set completely, before you start the grouting process. Now, we’ve been working with a 3 part epoxy grout today. You don’t mix it with water, so be sure you follow the manufacture’s instructions and the safety information.

We’ve been applying our grout with a rubber grout float, and this is a really handy tool. We just put our medium right on to the float. We’re gonna go straight to our wall, and begin smoothing this on with our float. The float is something that you’ll get comfortable using. You can apply pressure, you can tilt it, and it really helps you to just get that grout into all of your spaces. Make sure that you don’t have any air bubbles. This also helps to remove some of the excess grout, as well.

It’s a good idea to work in a small, manageable space, like a 1 foot section at a time. During the process of applying your grout, you do want to come back through with a damp sponge and wipe away some of your excess grout.

We’re gonna allow our grout to set up for 15 minutes, depending on the temperature and the humidity of the room. Then, use a clean, dry sponge to remove any remaining grout residue off the surface of the tile.

You will want to apply caulk to the base, and along any exposed edges. The secret to getting a smooth caulk line is to apply a thin strip of caulk, and then smooth the line by running a wet fingertip over the caulk.

What an amazing transformation! This is an easy, affordable way to add real style to your kitchen backsplash. If you need more home improvement projects and information, visit us at LowesCreativeIdeas.com.

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Mar 03

How to Hang a Curtain Rod

How To Hang A Curtain Rod (courtesy of BarbaraK.com)

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Feb 26

How to Paint Cabinets

How To Paint Cabinets (courtesy of Lowes.com)

Painting your cabinets can give a quick update to your kitchen or bath. Just follow these steps to give your cabinets a fresh look!

We’ve already prepared our cabinets for painting. Now, if you haven’t done that yet, take a look at our how-to-video, How To Prep Cabinets For Painting, at Lowes.com/videos. You can also print out the complete instructions for this project, along with a tool list. So, with your cabinets prepped, it’s time to paint! You will need:

Paint
A good quality paint brush
A 5-in-1 tool
Stir sticks
Paint tray
Drop cloths
Painter’s tape
Ladder
Sawhorses and lumber, to support the cabinet doors for easy painting.
You can also use a roller frame with a high-quality, foam roller, or a very fine, mini-nap roller to apply the paint.
You might also need door bumpers or wax.

When selecting your paint, look for a semi-gloss or high-gloss finish. A glossy finish will be easier to clean. High-quality latex products are durable and allow for easy cleanup.

If you haven’t already, clear your counter tops and tape off areas where your cabinets meet the walls and floors. Protect everything with drop cloths.

Now, if space and weather allow, take your cabinet doors into a garage or a basement for painting. If you’re painting indoors, make sure you have proper ventilation. OK, our cabinet doors have already been primed, and now we’re ready to paint!

Start by thoroughly stirring the paint. Then, begin painting on the back side of a door, starting in the center, and working your way out. You only want to brush over the surface a few times, with a high-quality brush. Brush marks are normal, and as the paint dries, these will level out.

Allow the paint to dry several hours before you turn the doors over and do the other side. Paint raised or decorative elements carefully, making sure that paint doesn’t puddle.

Alright, now on your cabinet’s framework, use a paintbrush, a high-quality foam roller or a fine nap mini-roller to apply the paint and, again, roll or brush the paint on in just a few strokes.

Wait 24 hours for everything to dry. Then, reattach drawers and doors. Another great way to get a fresh look is with new hardware. New hinges, doorknobs and drawer pulls can be installed easily, and really give your entire room a facelift!

Here’s another tip…painted cabinets will continue to cure and dry over time, so to prevent doors and drawers from sticking to the frame, apply door bumpers or even a bit of car wax to the surfaces that touch.

And with that, your project is complete! And, your kitchen, or any room with cabinets, will look dramatically different. Now, if you’re searching for other ideas on how to update your home, check out our lineup of how-to projects at Lowes.com./videos.

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Feb 10

How to Install a Bathroom Fan

How To Install A Bathroom Fan (courtesy of HomeDepot.com)

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Feb 08

How to Frame a Wall

How To Frame A Wall (courtesy of HomeRemodelWorkshop)

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Feb 03

How to Polish Brass

How To Polish Brass (courtesy of ThinkGlink.com)

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Jan 20

How to Measure Accurately

How To Measure Accurately (courtesy of HomeRemodelWorkshop)

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Jan 14

How to Replace a Standard Outlet

How To Replace A Standard Electrical Outlet (courtesy of ForDummies.com)

If you have a damaged outlet, or the color doesn’t match a new cover plate, you may want to replace the outlet.

The first step is to turn off the power to the outlet from the main fuse or circuit panel.

Unscrew and remove the cover plate.

Then, use a voltage tester to make sure the circuit is dead, or not conducting electricity. It should read Zero.

Unscrew the outlet from the electrical box with the wires still attached. Be sure to note where the white and black wires are attached to the old outlet.

Now, remove the wires from the old outlet. Carefully inspect it to see if the break-off tab connecting the 2 sets of terminals on each side is broken off. If it is, the next step is to remove the corresponding tabs from the new outlet. Grip each tab with long nosed pliers, and bend it back and forth until it breaks off.

Next, attach the wires to the terminals of the new outlet. If there’s a ground wire, attach it to the green screw on the outlet.

Push the new outlet back into the electrical box, and screw it in place.

Finally, screw on the cover plate and turn on the power.

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Dec 24

How to Replace Cabinet Hardware

How To Replace Cabinet Hardware (courtesy of HomeRemodelWorkshop)

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Dec 23

How to Lay Tile

How To Lay Tile (courtesy of FindAnyFloor.com)

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Dec 16

How to Winterize a Pond

How To Winterize A Pond (courtesy of HomeDepot.com)

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Dec 09

How to Iron Clothes

How To Iron Clothes (courtesy of ELaundry.com.au)

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Dec 04

How to Choose a Christmas Tree

How To Choose A Christmas Tree (courtesy of BetterTV.com)

A lot of us enjoy having a real tree versus an artificial one for the holidays, but we also like the least amount of work, too! Better Homes And Garden’s Madison tells us what we should be looking for when we’re picking out that Christmas tree.

A live Christmas tree is a classic holiday tradition. Who doesn’t love that fresh pine scent? We’re here at a Christmas tree farm to pick the perfect tree – come on!

Going to a tree farm to choose your live tree is a great tradition – for you and your family. Whether at a tree farm or a tree lot, you’ll find several types of live trees. So how do you know what’s right for you?

There are 2 main types of Christmas trees – firs and pines. Let’s take a closer look at the varieties.

The branches of firs are airier and stronger, which is ideal if you have a lot of large ornaments to display.

Firs have short, flat needles with blunt ends. They retain as well, but they’re usually more expensive.

You’ll find several varieties of firs, depending on your area, including Frasier, Balsam and Douglas.

Pine trees, such as white pine and scotch pine, have branches that grow closer together, for a denser look. They’re ideal for layering on the lights.

Pine branches are more flexible and have long, soft needles.

Depending on where you live, other species of Christmas trees may be available. Look for spruce and cedar.

Contact the National Christmas Tree Association for information on trees in your area.

When selecting a tree, make sure that the trunk is straight. Straight trunks fit better in the stand, and also have better balance. It’s also important that if you’re selecting a tree from a tree lot, make sure that they tree is not too dry.

This one is perfect! Many tree farms will put your tree on a shaker, to remove dry needles and prevent them from falling out in your car or home.

After you select your tree, have it wrapped in net or twine for easier transporting.

You’ll also need to cut about an inch from the trunk base with a pruning saw. This way, the trunk will be able to enjoy more water, and it will last longer! Once it’s cut, put it in water right away.

At this point, you may also want to thin out some branches so you have more space to show off ornaments and place gifts below the tree. Save any branches you remove for decorating later.

Let’s go inside and get this tree set up – I can’t wait to see how it looks! Getting a tree in the stand can be a challenge. But thanks to some newer designs, the job is easier than ever before.

Live trees require a little maintenance with watering. Be sure to always keep the base of your tree submerged. If the water level gets too low, a resin will form over the cut, and your tree will stop absorbing water. Just be sure to check the water level in the stand every other day.

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Dec 01

How to Set a Table

How To Set A Table (courtesy of RealSimpleNetwork.com)

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Nov 30

How to Clean Aluminum Siding

How To Clean Aluminum Siding (courtesy of Lowes.com)

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Nov 12

How to Install a Thermostat

How To Install A Thermostat (courtesy of HomeDepot.com)

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Nov 03

How to Clean a Rusty Cast Iron Pan

How To Clean A Rusty Cast Iron Pan (courtesy of Chow.com)

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Nov 02

How-to Fall Decorations With Pumpkins

How To Decorate With Pumpkins (courtesy of Threadbanger.com)

Hello, and welcome to Décor It Yourself! It’s October, and Halloween is approaching, so it’s time to get our pumpkins for the season. This week we’re showing you 10 uses for a pumpkin.

#1 – As a table centerpiece. Take a few different sizes of white or orange pumpkins, and gather them on your table on top of a strip of black lace, for a classy, Halloween touch.

#2 – As votives. You will need a few mini-pumpkins for this. With a knife, and on newspaper, carefully cut the top of the pumpkin off. Hollow out the inside – saving the seeds for later – and scrape the excess goo with a spoon! Add tea lights to create autumnal votives for your fall décor!

#3 – As a vase! Hollow out a medium-sized pumpkin the same way you did with the minis. Save the seeds again, for later, and once it’s cleaned out, place freshly cut flowers inside and fill with water. I’m using the flowers Will gave me for our anniversary…thanks, babe!

#4 – As a soup bowl. A hollowed out, smallish pumpkin serves as a lovely soup bowl! To make your own soup, check out recipes on EverydayFood or OrganicValley.com.

#5 – Use other hollowed out pumpkins as a candy dish, dipping dish, or for little treats. When we return, I’ll show you 5 more uses for pumpkins!

So, we obviously love the art of DIY – especially in the kitchen! Well, our good friends over at Hungry Nation TV just launched a cool, new cooking show called Working Class Foodies. It’s all about making your own food, while keeping it cheap and sustainable! It’s pretty much like Threadbanger, but with food! So, when you start getting hungry with all that DIYing, check them out at HungryNation.tv!

Welcome back!

#6 – Martha Stewart shows us this cool use for a pumpkin. Drill small holes in the side, large enough to put the end of a lollipop into, and you have a lollipop holder to place outdoors!

#7 – I think my favorite use for a pumpkin is roasting the seeds as a snack! Clean them, and bake them in the oven with a little olive oil and salt. Bake at 325 for about 20 to 25 minutes, turning every 10. Eat, or add to a salad, and enjoy!

#8 – Jack O’ Lanterns! Of course, one of the best and most common uses for a pumpkin is a homemade jack-o-lantern! Kick your design up a notch by drawing inspiration from these Better Homes and Gardens ideas. I personally love the illuminated, Haunted House design.

#9 – As art. Refer back to our graffiti lace episode, and use that technique on your pumpkin, to create and lively and unique design.

#10 – As dinner! For recipe ideas, check out Not Eating Out In New York’s Pumpkin Chili Recipe, and Martha’s Perfect Pumpkin Recipe.

Thanks so much for joining us! If you have any cool pumpkin ideas, leave them in a comment below. Before I leave, I just have to say, Happy Anniversary, Will – I Love You! And I will leave you all with this exclusive footage from our wedding a year ago…

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Oct 27

How to Repair a Pop-Up Bathtub Drain

This ExpertVillage video demonstrates how to repair a pop up bathtub drain.

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Oct 12

How to Weatherstrip a Door

How To Weatherstrip A Door (courtesy of RonHazelton.com)

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Oct 06

How to Fix a Pilot Light

How To Fix A Pilot Light (courtesy of FlyRobDog)

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Sep 21

How to Build an Upholstered Headboard

In this DesignSponge video demonstration, learn how to make a custom upholstered headboard.

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Sep 14

How to Patch a Hole in Drywall

Ooops! In this HomeRemodelWorkshop video tutorial, learn how to repair a hole in the wall and make it look as good as new.

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Sep 10

How to Hang Wallpaper

In this Lowes video, you will learn how to cut, book, seam and apply the wallpaper.

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Sep 09

How to Fold a Fitted Sheet

This video from Hisgirl777 will demonstrate how to perfectly fold a fitted sheet.

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Sep 04

How to Reupholster a Dining Room Chair

How To Reupholster A Dining Room Chair (courtesy of BeforeAndAfterTv)

Hi! I’m Katie Stiles with Before And After TV. Today, I’m going to show you how you can, very easily yourself, reupholster a chair. I’ve purchased 6 antique, dining room chairs that I purchased at a flea market. They’re about 60 years old, and, the seats have definitely had their day! It’s very cracked and worn leather. I’m going to show you how easily you can do it yourself, and everything that you need to do it!

So, the first thing you’re gonna want to do is pop your seat out. Some seats will be screwed in, some will come out easily. This one came out easily.

And, what I’ve done, is I’ve had a piece of foam cut to the same shape. I had 6 of these cut, and I’m gonna glue it onto the surface of the seat. Now, I’m gonna use some regular, white glue, and, anything that says foam use on it is fine. And, we’re gonna make sure that we cover the entire piece of foam, for lots of coverage!

Now, I’ve used a inch thickness of foam, and it’s quite a dense foam. The denser the foam, the more life you’re gonna get out of it.

So, next we’re going to take our foam and we’re gonna put it on top of our seat, and line it up. And, this is gonna have to dry for probably at least an hour. And, the best way to let your seat dry with the foam on it is to flip it over, and that will give it the weight of the seat for the drying process.

Now, I’ve picked a really modern pattern and piece of material with some bright colors. And, now that the glue has dried, we’re ready to cover the chair!

So, we’re gonna lay our piece of material down with the pattern side down, and I’ve cut it so it’s about 6 inches on each side, to give us the room. And, we’re gonna place our seat cushion, foam side down, on top of it.

We’re going to pull up our first side of material, and, the key thing to remember throughout all of this is to keep everything nice and tight. We’re gonna start right in the middle of that. Using a staple gun and pulling tight, we put our first staple in.

Now, we’re gonna pull up on the opposite side, and again, pull in nice and tight. Find your center. Again with the staple gun, right in the middle.

And, then our 4th side – pull it tight.

Now that we have our material – all 4 sides secure – we’re going to start from each staple and work our way out along the sides, until we get just to before the corners, ’cause we’re going to do the corners last.

Space them probably about an inch apart, and remember to pull up tightly on the material, every time you staple.

Now, there’s just the corners left to do, and, you can cut off an excess of material. Just pull up on the corner and just cut off about 2 inches that you will not need, and it will just make it easier to put all of your staples in.

Now, at the corners, you really want to pull up hard. And, it’s ok if you get a little bit of gathers, because that looks normal on a chair. Just try and get it all as smooth as you can. Try and keep your gathers on the underside of the chair as much as you can. Keep it nice and tight.
You’re gonna wanna put probably about 3 staples into this area.

Now, we go to our next corner and pull as tight as we can.

So, there you have it. The corners, the sides, are all done. It took about 10 minutes to do. I’m gonna pop this back into place, to show you how it looks. Just take it back to our chair, pop it back into place, and, there you have it!

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Aug 18

How to Maintain a Wood Deck

With these cleaning and treating tips from Lowes, your deck will look great and last for years.

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Aug 17

How to Repair Concrete

ThisExtremeHowTo.com video tutorial explains all the essential steps to repair concrete.

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Aug 11

How to Paint A Room

How to Paint A Room (courtesy of Home Depot)

You’ve carefully selected your products and you’ve taken the time to properly prepare your room for painting. Now comes the moment of truth…applying the paint! As with any other home improvement project, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do the job. Let’s start with the ceiling and work our way down.

First, be sure to select paint specially designed for ceilings. It has a flat sheen, so the ceiling will have an even look. It will also help diffuse light, and it’s formulated to spatter less than wall paint. And, ceilings don’t always need to be painted white! Try tinting the ceiling paint to tie in with the colors you have planned for the walls.

As you can see, this particular ceiling has what’s called the popcorn texture. Many of these textures are water soluble, so it may dissolve and come down if you apply a water-based, latex paint. To avoid this, seal the surface with a white before you apply the paint.

Alright, let’s start by cutting the edges of the ceiling with a brush. Now, before you start any painting job, you should apply a thinner to your brush – water for latex or mineral spirits for oil-based paints – and remove any excess. Dip your brush about 1/3 of the way up the bristles, so paint doesn’t accumulate all the way up to the ferrule.

Gently tap the brush to both sides of the bucket, but don’t drag or press the brush against the rim…it will remove too much paint.

Start your first brush stroke 1 width from the edge, and then return to the starting point and brush toward the edge. Then, smooth the paint with a light touch.

Reload the brush, and start the next stroke on the wet edge and apply toward the dry. Then, back-paint toward the wet and lightly feather the 2 areas together with light strokes.

Now, only cut the edge for an area you can roll off, while maintaining a wet edge – say, a 3×3 foot section. Before you apply paint with a roller, prime the roller pad with a thinner, and remove any excess.

Dip the roller into a tray and saturate it with paint. Then, remove the excess by gently rolling it
back and forth across the graded portion of the tray. Begin rolling on paint along the still wet cut- in edge, to prevent overlap marks.

Reload the roller often, and roll slowly and lightly, then back-roll to blend the paint. As you can see, we’re using a roller with a long nap, due to the rough, textured surface.

Continue working in small sections, by first cutting along the wall, then applying with a roller, rolling out the paint, then blending.

Also, be sure to vary the roller directions slightly, because perfectly straight lines are more likely to show overlap marks.

Repeat this process until the ceiling is done, and immediately wipe up any drip marks on the walls as you go.

Now, make sure you apply blue painter’s tape to any ceiling molding before applying paint to the wall. The process is similar to painting a ceiling. You want to work in small sections, and cut in only as much as you can roll off before it dries.

Begin by rolling along the vertical wet edge in one corner of the room. And then, paint a 3-foot high “W” pattern, and fill the pattern in.

Once you’ve completed enough “W” patterns to fill a floor to ceiling section,fill your roller with a light load, and blend in the sections. And, if you need to stop before completing our room, stop on either an inside or outside corner. This will help hide some of the subtle color or sheen differences you may have when you continue painting later. Continue the process of cutting and rolling until all of the walls in the room are completed.

Allow this coat to dry for at least 12 hours before applying a 2nd coat, and allow the finished walls to cure for at least 24 hours before you mask off the walls to paint trim. This way, paint won’t come off with the tape when it’s removed.

If you buy premium products, prep the surface and use the proper technique, you’ll get professional results every time!

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Jul 17

DIY Solar Panel Tutorial

How To Make Solar Panels (courtesy of GreenPowerScience)

Hello there! I’m your host, Dan Rojas.

And I’m Denise Rojas. And, today, we’re gonna make our own solar panels! This is the famous Harbor Freight Solar Panels that were used in many of our previous videos. Today, we’re gonna be using cells of a different type!

There are 3 basic types of cells used in most solar panels. The least efficient and least expensive of these cells is the Amorphous cell. Now, this what the Harbor Freight system is. The cells are deposited on glass, usually, and there are kits that come with this, they’re really tricky to work with. I pretty much don’t advise you to try to make these. The nice thing about these, because they are deposited on glass, even though they are less efficient than the other type of cells, is the fact that you can just dunk these in water. You can just pretty much do anything with them. They’re really, really durable.

There’s also Monocrystalline. Those are hexagon cells, Those are the most efficient, and the most expensive.

The cell that we’re gonna be working with today is Polycrystalline. These cells are almost a watt and a half, almost 2 watts a piece, and you can get these in lots of 100, and you can get them in just about any size. These cells, you have to tab them together. Now, one thing about these cells is they’re very fragile. And, um, you can see that it didn’t take much at all to break that. You’ve gotta be really careful when you work with these, because that was about a $2.00 break that I just did right there.

Now, one thing about these cells is, they are, like I said, about a watt and a half to 2 watts a piece, but they’re .5 volts. So, in order to get your voltage up, to say, 18 volts to 20 volts, you need to chain together 36 of these, or 40 of these, depending on what voltage you’re looking for. So, what we’re gonna be doing is tabbing these cells together today.

There’s basically 3 different things that you need for this. You need:

Tabbing wire, which is a thin wire that’s got a deposited metal on it. This actually solders to the cells.

There’s also a bus wire, which is basically the same thing as tabbing wire, but it’s a lot thicker, so it handles more amperage, and you use this to tie your strings of cells together.

There is also some silver solder, which is basically, you use to enhance the soldering joints.

You also are gonna need a soldering iron. They usually recommend that you use a 65-watt iron. We’re gonna use one a little bit less than that.

We’re gonna show you the basics for this, and, in future videos, we’re gonna show you how to add a lot of components to the solar panels.

So, we’re gonna get started! I’m gonna plug the soldering iron in. On thing that Dan forgot to mention is that he’s gonna be using this flux pen. Now, this pen, it actually smells like rubbing alcohol and, what it does is it opens up the cells, so that way it can accept a better soldering joint.

When you get your cells, they usually come in a bundle, like this. And, as I said, they are extremely fragile – this is another one that I broke! So, you want to be very careful with these, and handle them with care. I’m gonna show you a close-up of these, and explain exactly what’s going on with them.

What you’re gonna notice with these cells, is that there’s a series of small white lines, and 2 big lines. This is where you tabbing wire goes. Now, on the back side, there’s also 6 little joints where you solder the tabbing wire to. Most solar cells like this are usually negative on the front, positive on the back. So, in theory, you could take a bunch of them and stack them like batteries to build up the voltage. The problem is, only one cell would get the sunlight, so you can’t do that.

So, what you end up doing, is you end up taking tabbing wire, and you run it down the length of this, and you leave some extra. And, the next one attaches to the back of the next cell, and you go from there. So, you end up tabbing them together like this in long chains.

We’re gonna lay it flat, like that, and the you take your flux pen and you basically just go right up and down it. Now, it’s a good idea not to drink a lot of coffee on the day you do this, like I did, because, the steadier your hands are, the better off you are! You want to have your tab wires to be twice the length of the cell. Now, I went ahead and cut these in advance. You basically just measure it and double it over. It’s a good idea to do all of your tabbing wires in advance. That way, you don’t have to come back and do this step. Also, be careful with your soldering iron. I just grabbed it in the wrong spot and burned my fingers, so I’m gonna have 2 nice blisters, but, you basically try to get it started so you know where you’re gonna end. And, you hold it down, and the tin that’s on the outside of this should adhere to this. And, you can see that that locked down. Now, you’re gonna hold it the length, just like I have it. You take your soldering iron and you hold it flat like this, and you just gradually work it down the length of the cell.

Now that you have 2 of these tabs, you’re gonna take them and flip them over, and you’re gonna attach them like this. You’re gonna want to get this tabbing wire nice and flat – get it nice and straight. And, you’re gonna arrange them like this. Now, it’s a good idea to have a setup of exactly what you’re doing. Some people will build a little form, so that these are in a perfect, straight line and they don’t look like crap whenever you’re done. But, what you do is you bend the wire up, and you take your flex pen and you want to put it on every single one, like that.

Now, this is an area where the solder actually comes in, and you can actually use it for this. Basically, get yourself a little bead of solder on there, and what you’re gonna do is, get your tabbing wire positioned. I’m gonna use a little clamp to hold it down, because this wire does build up some heat. Let me get the first one in place here. We now have 2 cells that are joined together! So, we’re gonna go outside and we’re gonna see if this produces one volt real quick, because you want to test these as you go along. The time to replace a bad cell is now, versus once you’re completely done with your project.

Now, the way that you want to test these, is, you attach your negative lead to the front, which is this tabbing wire here, and then, you can touch pretty much anywhere on the back. Alright, so you basically take it and, we’re gonna test it and touch this to the back of this here. And you can see that we’re getting one volt out of this, which is, these 2 together produce the one volt. And, if I cover them up, they drop. So, these 2 panels – these 2 cells, are actually good to go.

So, what you’re gonna have to do in order to get a…something to charge 12 volt batteries – like these over here – what you’re gonna have to do is you’re gonna have to do this 36 times, total. So, you’re gonna need 36 of them to get to the 18 volts that you need.

So, this is what we did just now, I got a couple of blisters in the process! And, you can see that it’s a pretty tedious process to do, and, doing is this way comes out to be about $2.00 a watt, maybe a little bit less than that. As you can see, these are very fragile and they break easily, so you have to encase them really good. So, you need to put a glass cover over them. You need to seal this so moisture doesn’t get in there. There’s really a lot to the DIY process with this.

To encase it, does somebody improv on that, or, is there a professional case to use?

We’re gonna be doing that in future videos. We’re gonna be actually trying different ideas in order to…you basically make a frame, encase it in glass and seal it, so that moisture doesn’t get in there. Some people will seal these in resins or waxes, and that’s a good way, too. You just…it is a pretty tricky process! I personally don’t really see…I don’t really necessarily have the patience to do an entire panel…we’re gonna do it for our video.

Well, it seems a little hard to get the soldering and the strips on it just right, but, within time, it would come a lot easier. It’s definitely a practice thing. And, our soldering iron, by the way, is not a good soldering iron for this! You want to get – you wanna buy a good one that gets a really good heat buildup to it, and it will be a lot easier.

It looks great, and, so, somebody would have to get this…how many times would they have to produce this?

To charge a 12 volt battery, you would need to put 36 of them to get to 18 volts, or, if you wanted 20 volts, you would need to do 40 of these.

So, does it go in a row, or,how does that work?

What people usually do, is they’ll do 18 of these, and then 18 of these, and then tie those together, so that jumps the voltage up. And then, the bigger panels, if you want to increase the…’cause 36 of these would produce about 60 watts, 65 watts. The Harbor Freight system that we have outside is 45 watts, so if you put 36 of these together – make sure I’m doing the math – yea, if you put 36 of these together, you would have a more powerful system than the Harbor Freight out there. It would cost you probably about 100 bucks to do that with these cells, the tabbing wire. You have to take in to account that you’re gonna break some along the way. And, then you have to add the case cost to it, because sealing these…the Harbor Freight system has been out in the sun, it’s been out in the rain, it’s been dipped in water (some of the smaller panels), and they work fine. This is gonna be up to you, how well that works out.

Can it be embedded in acrylic, or is that too…

You can encase this in resin – you can definitely do that – different types of resin. You just want to make sure that the contacts all stay good together. And, it’s really important to test these as you go along in case they don’t work. You also need to add some blocking diodes to this, because you don’t want it to drain your battery. You need to make sure the voltage only goes in one direction.

This process is good for somebody who’s on a budget, who has a lot of time on their hands, and who is very patient and wants to do it yourself. If you’re not that type of person, buying a pre-manufactured system is probably gonna cost you double, or a little bit more than that, but that’s your call with it.

Well, I definitely think it’s worth completing, as many as we have, and embedding it into something, for a future video. We spent about $400 on a 150-cells, a little bit more than that, and that’s the equivalent of about 300 watts. So, if we can get one together, a 300-watt solar panel is – well, we wouldn’t do one, but, 300 watts of solar panels is pretty expensive to buy.
I think the challenge is worth the effort on it. You do get better at this, by the way. This was like the 3rd one that I did, and again, the soldering iron – crappy!

If you go to our website, we will have information on where you can buy all this stuff. There’s different people that sell it on eBay and that sort of thing. We’ll have some links to that, and you can at least buy some cells, buy some of this stuff, and see if it’s for you!

I’m your host, Dan Rojas…

and I’m Denise Rojas!

Thank you for watching, and enjoy our videos! Oh, and don’t grab the soldering iron in the wrong place – that really hurt!

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Jul 10

How-to Pool Care – Removing Algae

Watch this FireYourPoolGuy.com video to learn how to clean a green algae-ridden swimming pool.

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Jul 01

How to Change a Faucet

In this AskTheBuilder.com video, learn how to properly change a kitchen faucet.

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Jun 17

How to Repair Exterior Siding

In this easy to follow tutorial from AskMeDIY.com, learn how to replace damaged vinyl siding.

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Jun 05

How to Repair a Lawn Mower – Replacing Starter Rope

Learn how to fix your lawn mower and replace a starter rope in this video tutorial from IFIXIT4U.

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May 28

How to Replace Baseboard Trim

Watch this step by step demonstration from HomeAdditionPlus.com and learn how to install baseboard trim.

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May 11

How to Install a Light Switch

How To Install A Light Switch (courtesy of AskTheBuilder)

Light switch wiring is easy! Hi, I’m Tim Carter from Ask The Builder.com, and wiring a light switch yourself can save you lots of money. Remember, when working with high-voltage electric, always turn off the circuit breaker to prevent electrocution. You might wonder how to wire a light switch, so, let’s take one apart while the walls are opened up in this kitchen remodeling job, so you can see how the wires are connected to the switch.

A regular wall switch has 2 screws, plus the green grounding screw. The black wire that is always hot or energized, well it connects to the one screw. And the other black wire that goes up to the light fixture – it connects to the 2nd screw. It doesn’t make any different which wire connects to which screw. Be sure to loop the wire on to the switch screw correctly. As the screw tightens, the end of the wire should close up the loop.

Connect the bare, copper grounding wire to the green grounding screw.

Switch wiring is easy! Go ahead, start wiring your light switch now! I’m Tim Carter for AskTheBuilder.com

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Apr 29

How to Unclog a Drain Without Chemicals

How To Unclog A Drain Without Chemicals (courtesy of Home RemodelWorkshop)

Hi! I’m Bob Schmidt with Home Remodel Workshop. Slow running bathroom sinks, slow running bathroom tubs, nothing can be more annoying! Backs the water up, brings the dirt and everything right up into your tub. I’ve had some luck in the past using my snake to unclog these things, but, to do that, you have to take out the drain trap, you have to take apart the pop up in the vanity. I found a new product that I think a homeowner could use that maybe would be very useful and quick, easy, safe tip where you won’t damage your stuff. Give me a couple of minutes, and I’ll show you how to use it!

And, the inexpensive product that I’m talking about using is called a Zipit. Basically what is it, is it’s a flexible plastic with these little plastic barbs on it. They are sharp – I mean, obviously, not dramatically sharp, but I wouldn’t let little kids play with this. But, the neat thing about this is that this won’t damage the metal on your tub, and it doesn’t require pulling the pop up out of your sink. Here, let me show you how to use it!

The only downside I have to making this video, is, apparently I don’t have a slow running drain! As you can see, I turn my water on, it takes the water down right quick. You can see by this hair right here, exactly what happens, though. This hair gets sucked down into that drain and then gets caught around this pop up and the armature around the pop up. Most of the time,that is what’s causing your slow flow.

Now, the nice thing about this product is, where typically for a snake, I would have to take this out, I would have to hand-direct the snake down into the hole to make sure I don’t scratch up this surface. Because this is flexible and plastic and has these little plastic barbs on it, I can actually slip it in with the pop up still in place, and basically slide it all the way down to the hilt. Now, once it’s in there, I can jiggle it around a little bit. Oh, and, as you can see, even with a slow running drain, you can still…or, with a clean running drain, it’s still pulling some dirt and debris out of there.

Now, I’m gonna go ahead and take this to some of the other sinks in my house, and I’m gonna try it in them also, just to show you, and maybe we’ll get better results from there. Maybe we’ll have some better luck in my kid’s bathroom! They don’t have a tendency to pick up the hair and be as tidy as we are. But still, as you can see, the drain – ah, it’s running a little slower than the other one, but not bad. So, basically, what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna take the Zipit, do the same thing as I did on the other one…stick it all the way down in there, move it up and down a little bit…not bad. I’m gonna go ahead and go to another side of the pop up, go ahead an shove it down there and see if I can find something on that side – oop! There we go! Oop, and there comes some more…I don’t even know what that is! But, as you can see, even with a drain that’s running clean, hair is already starting to accumulate inside there. You get too much of that hair in there, this drain slows down and then finally stops.

OK, here we are in the bathtub. I went ahead and I pulled the pop up out, although you don’t have to. This drain also is running clear, but I wanted to show you this “X” that’s here inside of this tub. That’s where most of the hair clogs are gonna get clogged up. Now, it’s pretty obvious it’s clean, but, if the pop up were on here, and I were sliding this alongside the pop up, these barbs would grab that hair and pull it back out of there. 9 times out of 10, that’s gonna be your problem.

And, here we are down in my nasty, stationary tub. Although the water seems to run fairly freely and goes down the drain, we don’t use the strainer as much as we should, or as much as most people do, so I’m sure that there’s lint and debris that gets bypassed in this drain. So, I’m gonna go ahead and send this down in there. Let’s see if I can…I’m snagging some of it up, but let’s go ahead and try a different spot. Yea, there’s some lint right there, coming out. I’m sure that, if let go too long, that it would also clog up this drain and make this a slow drain.

Now, as the date of this posting, I paid $2.15 for this. I think it’s well worth the effort if you have a slow drain in a bathtub or a shower or a vanity sink, as far as for a hair clog or, even a downstairs stationary tub for lint and stuff, to go ahead and give this a shot before, I would definitely do this before I would break out my snake or go to call a plumber. I’m Bob Schmidt with Home Remodel Workshop. I hope you like this tip, see you again real soon. Thanks!

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Apr 21

How to Recycle T-Shirts – DIY Throw Pillow Tutorial

Learn how to sew a t-shirt throw pillow in this video from CuriousDoodles.blogspot.com

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Apr 16

How to Lay Tile Floor

How To Lay Tile Floor (courtesy of AskTheBuilder)

Oh boy, check this out. Hi, I’m Tim Carter from AskTheBuilder.com. Thanks for joining me today! I’m in this room that we’re remodeling, and we have to extend a tile floor into this area that’s not finished. Check that out! The reason that happened is, just about 10 days ago, right where I’m standing, there used to be a wall that went all the way to the ceiling. We took it down, so that the two rooms have now become one.

The challenge is this – check this out. If you go ahead and start to lay the tile, going this direction behind me, and you think that you’ll be able to line it up with your eye, making sure that the lines are perfect – it’s not gonna happen. You’ll make a mistake every time. You actually need to create a line on this concrete slab that you will actually lay the tile to, to know that those rows are straight. And, here’s one way that I’ve done it in the past, works pretty well.

You can use just a regular chalk line. This one happens to have no chalk on it, yet. If you’re gonna use one that’s already got chalk, make sure you pull the chalk line out and snap it a couple of times, to get as much chalk off as possible. All you have to do is open up the chalk line, and you hook the chalk line right to the underside of the tile. You can see right here. I took the end of the chalk line, hooked it to the under side of this tile, pull the string tight.

And, then what I do – now, look real closely here. I go ahead right here, and I get this string lined up right with that edge of the tile. That’s exactly what I want to see, right there, so I know it’s right. Then I take the chalk line, and I come back down here. And, what I can do, first of all, is do this. I can actually use the line – the string line – and, I can see by just hovering it over the edge of this tile, that these tiles are perfectly in line. That’s exactly what we want to see!

So, now what we’ll do is, I can make a line, right here. Right underneath the string line, on the concrete slab. So, we know where that point is. We come back here, and I line up the string, looking right down the string. Put my eye right over it. And, you can see that I can swing the string left and right, until it’s right at the edge of the tile, which it is, right there. You can see it right over the edge of the tile. I put the string down here, make a mark, and if you take a heavy object, like a full paint can, I can set it on the string.

So, now the string won’t move, and I can go ahead and make marks right underneath the string, in a couple places. And then, if you want, you can take a straight edge, like a 4-foot level, connect those lines, and you’ve got your straight line to start laying your tile!

I’m Tim Carter, for AskTheBuilder.com!

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Apr 14

Garage Sale How-to

How To Have A Garage Sale (courtesy of Better.tv)

It’s time to put up the signs and make a little cash! Yep, it’s yard sale season! But, before you clean out your garage, Nicole has a step-by-step guide to throwing a profitable yard sale, and how to do your part for the environment.

Usually, I’m showing you where to spend your money. But today, I’m gonna show you how to make some money at a garage sale! They can usually be very time consuming, but they can also be profitable. How? I’ll show you!

We’re open for business! Just kidding – they’re fake – and they’re dirty. First things first is to clean all of your items, because obviously they’re going to sell better if they look presentable. And then, after that, you have to price everything. Don’t skip this step, because it’s gonna cut down on negotiation. They make labels right in your regular grocery store that you can just pick up. Or, you can get these kind, at like an office supply. For bigger ticket items, those are nice. You can just tape them right to your items. If you don’t know what to price your garage sale items at, 15% of what you paid retail is usually the standard.

Now, when it comes to sets, there’s 2 ways of thought. These coasters – there’s 4 of them. I don’t want to get stuck with just one, so I’ve tied them up – it’s $.50 for all 4. But, these candle holders are $1.00 each, and if I was stuck with just one, it wouldn’t be that big a deal. So I’ve priced them individually. It would be $2.00 for the pair. And, they’ll probably ask if I’ll take $1.50 and, of course I will – and you should, too!

So, when it’s time to bring your merchandise outside, try to bring your furniture as close to the street as possible. It’s the one thing that drive-by buyers are really looking for, because of the higher retail prices of furniture.

And then, organize your items. These boxes are available at any moving supply store, and they’re perfect for garage sales! We did kids on this side, adults on this side. And everything is hung up, so buyers don’t have to wonder what it is.

The burden of proof that things work is your responsibility, so plan to have some power at your next sale. That way, people can test out items. Also, have some batteries for the hand-held devices. Now, you don’t want people in your home, so don’t offer to let them test anything inside. Just drag out an extension cord. Also, make it very clear where the sale ends, so you have no stragglers back there where they don’t belong.

If you have kids in your family, it’s good to give them a job, so they’re not under your feet. It’s also hard for drivers to drive by a cute little kid selling lemonade! And, if you have kids coming with parents to your garage sale, it’s good to put the wee one’s merchandise at the back of the sale, and low. One, because you want them to get attached to it, and they can’t do that if they can’t see it. And, you want to put it all the way back in the sale, so parents don’t have to worry about their kids in the traffic. Happy parents spend more money!

Alright! Well, garage sales can be a great way to recycle, reuse and reduce. And, it can afford you new funds to go shopping! For BetterTV, I’m Nicole Camarady, wishing you Happy Garage Sale-ing!

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Apr 10

How to Install Hardwood Floors

Learn the basic steps to installing hardwood floors in this video tutorial from Lowes.com

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Apr 02

How to Decorate Small Spaces

Learn how to maximize your space with a few home decorating tips from HGTV.com

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Apr 01

How To Repair A Sticking Door

How To Repair A Sticking Door (courtesy of HomeRemodelWorkshop)

Hi! I’m Bob Schmidt, from Home Remodel Workshop. Do you have that door in your house that seems to be hitting up at the top? It’s rubbing the paint off, doesn’t want to open and close, and maybe the latch doesn’t work properly? I’ll show you some of the solutions for that! Let’s get to work!

Here, we have a door that doesn’t seem to be closing properly. The lead edge of the door hits this side of the jam, it’s rubbing the paint off, it’s beating up the backside of the door. A lot of times, when people see this, the first thing they want to do is run and get their power saw, and start cutting on the door, or sanding on the door. That’s generally not a good idea. There are usually some simple adjustments that will help you take care of this.

Whenever I come across a door like this,usually, I have a quick little check to asess the problem. If I see that the door is hitting on the lead edge at the top, the first thing I like to do is push over on the top hinge. If it feels like the door moves, and then the door opens and closes easily and the latch lines up, I’m pretty sure that my issue is here at this top hinge.

When I open up the door, and I look at the top hinge, the first thing I’ll do is, I’ll lift on the door. And if I see any movement in that hinge at all, I’ll know that I have a screw issue, where the screws have come loose. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of taking a screwdriver and tightening those down, and that will take care of your problem. Also, check the screws in the door to make sure they’re secure. Sometimes, just a little quarter turn will make all the difference in the world! If I try to tighten these screws down, and, after getting it screwed all the way in, the screw continues to spin, as if it’s not gripping anything, then it’s time to add a little bit of wood in that hole to tighten up that screw.

Now, some people get real picky about what you fill these holes in with to tighten these screws. I’m not one of them! I pretty much take whatever is available. I had this old piece of baseboard, that I saved to make a profile on a job – it’s made out of yellow pine. I simply take the baseboard – I hold it on the ground, take the tip of my hammer, and I’ll break off a few pieces, til I see something that I like! Sometimes, I’ll go ahead and I’ll take a knife and I’ll whittle it down a little bit. They don’t have to be real big…it doesn’t take much to fill in a screw hole.

Before I take any hinges loose, even though this is a 3-hinge door and it’s usually pretty stable when you take the top hinge loose, I still don’t want that extra pressure binding on that 2nd hinge. So, before I take the hinge loose, I usually support the lead side of the door with some shims or a block of wood or magazines, so that it doesn’t bind that 2nd hinge upon getting the extra weight on it. In this case, I had 2 of the screws that were spinning free. When I went to tighten them down, they continued to spin.

So, you take the little blocks of wood, little pieces of wood that you made (they don’t have to be cut to any length), you stick them into the hole, tapping them in, until they’re pretty snug. And then, go ahead, gently push up and down, break it off. Usually there’s enough left on there for the 2nd one. Tap it in there, down in to the drywall until it’s real nice and tight, break him off, and you’re ready to put that hinge back on!

I went ahead and put the screw back in that had tightened down – that was tight fine to begin with, and now I’m gonna go ahead and replace these 2 screws, into the new pieces of wood that we installed in the hole. I generally like to have a hand screwdriver to do this, because if you use a cordless drill or a mechanical drill bit, you can’t always feel how much you can torque it down at the end. You want to get it tight, but, like any other screw, you can over-tighten it, you can strip the threads if you start bouncing the screw tip on it. This is just generally a safer way to do it!

After you get the hinge screws in, you can feel that this hinge is much tighter than what it used to be. You can see that the margin across the door and down the left side of the door is correct, and, if you open and close the door, the latch now operates fine. Generally, that will take care of your problem.

A common cause of door problems, other than just age and sag, is people have a tendency to like to hang things over the top of their door. Shoe racks and mirrors and things like that. Generally, that’s not a good idea. It puts a lot of extra stress on a door. But other than that, usually a simple solution is the best. Don’t be in a big hurry to take a power saw or a belt sander or anything to this door, you could just complicate your problems.

Other than that, hope you found this tip useful, and good luck on your project! We have plenty more videos, back on our Home Remodel Workshop channel, and if you like them, remember to subscribe – thanks!

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Mar 31

How to Grow Vegetables at Home

Learn how to grow a vegetable garden at home in this video tutorial from 5Min.com

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Mar 30

Recycle Crafts How-to – How to Recycle Plastic Bags

We all have them stowed under our kitchen sink, plastic grocery bags. Learn how to reuse plastic shopping bags and make a fashionable laptop case in this video from ThreadBanber.com

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Mar 27

How to Reuse Old Towels

How to Recycle Old Towels (courtesy of MichelleKaufamann.com)

Millions of tons of textile waste ends up in our landfills every year – even though there are great ways to recycle! Charitable organizations are a wonderful place to send your old clothes, your old linens, your old rugs. But, sometimes those old towels that end up in the back of our linen closet are not so donation-worthy! So, here’s a beautiful way that you can transform those old towels into something luxurious, like this bath rug!

I just love this, because this is a simple, green-it-yourself project that only requires your old bath towels or beach towels – you could even do t-shirts – and, a gridded matting.

This matting you can get at almost any fabric store. You just simply choose the size that you’re gonna want your rug to be, based on your bath dimensions. For me, I’m making it about 18 inches by 2 feet. That’s what’s gonna fit best outside of my shower.

Then, you take your towels, and hopefully you washed them! And, cut them into strips. You want to make the strips about ¾ of an inch wide – about the dimensions, the width of your finger.

Then, once you have the strip made, make it into lengths of about 5 to 6 inches. For this rug, it’s probably gonna take me 2 or 3 old bath towels.

Then, once you have all of your strips, you can start tying them into the grid. You just pull it through and simply tie a knot! You just keep on tying until you have finished the grid.

For the rug that I already finished, you can see on the back that I wasn’t super precious about it. I skipped some squares, especially when a good part of the movie was happening! But, it still makes a really dense, super-soft, really cushy rug that’s lovely for when I’m coming out of the bathtub or the shower. Puts me in a good mood as a way to start the day!

Thanks so much for watching this Green-It-Yourself project. I’m Michelle Kaufamann, helping you to let the green in today and every day!

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Mar 26

How to Keep Foods Fresh

Learn how to keep foods fresh and from becoming stale with a few common household items in this video from Howcast.com

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Feb 13

How to Glue Acrylic

In this video tutorial from TapPlastics.com, learn how to glue acrylic together.

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Feb 04

How to Save Money – Making a Budget

Learn some simple strategies for creating a budget and saving money in this video from MoneyTalkNews.com

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Jan 13

How to Save Money on your Energy Bill

Save money on your energy bills with these simple home improvements from Lowes.com

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Jan 08

How to Make a Secret Safe

Learn how to disguise a common household item as a safe to hide all your goodies in this video from HouseholdHacker.com

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Dec 22

How to Save Money on your Energy Bill

Want to save money on your energy bill this winter? Watch this video from holidaysolutions for some simple tips that can save you money and energy!

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Dec 01

How to Make a Wreath

Learn how to add your own personal touch to a festive holiday wreath in this video from MyHomeIdeas.com.

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Nov 26

How to Care for Silver

Find out exactly what type of cleaner to use to keep your silver looking its best in this video from MyHomeIdeas.com

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Nov 12

How-to Pumpkin Centerpiece

How To Make A Fall Centerpiece (courtesy of Better.tv)

Well, if you’ve been searching for a fall centerpiece, but you haven’t found just the right one, don’t worry about it. Better’s lifestyle expert, Mar Jennings is here, and he has a great that will not only work, but make for a great host or hostess gift this holiday season! You’re always bringing us a 2 for 1 – I like that!

It’s a pumpkin bouquet, and we have them all available right now because we just finished with Halloween, and of course, now we’re in November, and this is a perfect way to put this as a beautiful centerpiece. And, it’s easy to do, inexpensive, and most of the stuff is right in your own garden! So, that’s the best part! And, you can give it as a gift – perfect gift, they will remember this. And, it’s the gift that keeps giving, because it’s just so beautiful and it’s easy to care for.

So, we’re gonna start with a pumpkin. You’re gonna carve it out as you normally would – pretty simple. Because what we’re doing is we’re creating a vessel for the flower arrangement. And then, we’re gonna take some oasis – and this is available at any garden center. It’s pretty popular. And we’re going to cut it so it fits snug in the pumpkin. That will help the flowers to stand up straight.

And then, we’re just going to push it right in, and you can put all of the excess right in there. That will not hurt anything. And the idea is, so really all the flowers are secure and they don’t move around. And then, what you’re going to do is add some water. And you will notice that it will absorb all the water. So just take a minute to do that, and then, you’re going to start building from there.

The nice thing about this is you’re gonna start with your evergreen and then you’re going to build from there. So, go ahead and start pulling some.

What size do you put in first?

You know, it’s a real personal choice. I think the more you do this, the better you get, and you want to make sure that they’re secure, so go ahead and push them so they don’t move. Just go ahead and have fun with it. And, you want to have some variety all over the place, so if you’re putting a bit of a hemlock over here, put one on the other side as well, just to balance it out.

We have some flowers as well. Now, you could buy some flowers, I also have some sedum. So, what you do is you want to cut these a little bit, so let’s go ahead and chop these down. You want to fill this up as much as you possibly can, and walk away from it, look at it and go back to it. Asses it, and just continue to look at your color choices, and I use Mother Nature as my real inspiration. That’s why I brought these leaves, so you can see all the different colors that are right now in the garden, and that’s what I’m mimicking in this bouquet.

And, you’ve done this pretty quickly, right? Just keep filling it, and, if you notice, there’s some sedum in here as well in the garden. And again, go ahead and just start popping that in. And you will find that it will become very tight, very dense. Here’s some grasses, some cattails, zebra grasses, so it makes it very whimsical.

The very last part here is just taking the top of the pumpkin, and we’re going to secure that on the side. And you’re going to do that with some toothpicks, so I’m going to break some in half, and what you’re doing is creating some fangs, and this will stay on the side, and it just kind of makes it a real, finished product. And you’re securing it right on the side, like that. And it stays – it’s not going anywhere! And, that’s when you know you’re completely done.

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Nov 10

Home Improvement/How To Repair Asphalt Driveway Cracks

How To Repair Asphalt Driveway Cracks (courtesy of AskTheBuilder.com)

Oh, hey! How are you doing? I’m just bringing out the last tool to start my blacktop crack repair job. Great weather today, blacktop’s dry, and that’s exactly what you need when you get ready to finish a blacktop repair job. Here’s what we’ve got. First thing we need to do before we get started, in case the safety police are watching, it’s time to get on the new, cool safety glasses. Oh, yeah – what do you think about that?

Now, what we gotta do – first thing that it says on the instructions on the caulk, or the repair sealant that we’re gonna use – you gotta clean out the crack. I always like to use a regular broom, and it works really well! Just go ahead and sweep it out, get all of that loose debris and loose sand out of the way…oh, yeah! Simple as that! Now, once again, remember the blacktop’s gotta be nice and dry.

So, let me show you what I’ve got, what we’re gonna use today. We’ve got this nice crack. And, this particular crack is kind of like a V shape. And, because it’s V shaped, it’s really pretty hard to install a backer rod, that sometimes you have to use when you install a crack sealant with blacktop. Usually, you use a backer rod when the crack is shaped more like this, where the sides of the crack are pretty parallel. And, you’ll get those cracks very frequently in a blacktop driveway, but not this particular one.

So, what we’re gonna do first is, all you have to do is start with this compound. It’s an asphalt repair – check this out, it says right here – Asphalt Repair, it’s got all the nice instructions, and it looks – it’s just like, really, caulking. And simple! All you do is go ahead and start to squeeze it out, being really careful that you don’t put too much of the material too high, because you will have a real mess on your hands. And you can see how easy that comes out! It just flows out of the tube, and one of the reasons that it flows really well is because I made sure that it wasn’t too cold out here. The outside temperature here is about 60 – 65°, and this material flows just beautifully out of this tube, and you can see that.

Now, check this out – get a little closer, I want to show you something. I’m coming up to a really big, wide area, and I want to fill that up, but not too high, and you’ll see in a minute why. And there’s another one coming up right next to it. Oh, yeah, look at this right here, you can see a big area. I kind of put the sealant in there, making sure it’s not too high.

Alright, now, here’s what I wanna show you. The next step is, I’ve got this cute, little stick – it’s actually from a piece of mulch…check this out. You can see it’s about ¼ inch wide, and I found it in the mulch, actually right next to the blacktop drive. And I just use that. Come down here close, I wanna show you something. I actually want to spread this sealant so that it smears on the blacktop on either side of the caulk, and I’m also making sure that the caulk sealant is not too high. And this makes for a really, really good bond, so that the crack sealant material will not come out, you know, this winter, when it gets really, really cold.

Now, but down here, where it’s really, really wide…before I started the job, I went around and I found some of the rocks that had actually come out of the blacktop drive. What you do is you actually put these rocks right in the sealant compound. I know it sounds crazy, but this actually helps – it helps disguise the crack, for one. And it helps make the crack sealant work a lot better, because it makes it stronger. And you just push those rocks down into the sealant, and then you push the material up against it, so that the cracks – and so that the cracks fill up with material, and it sticks well against these little rocks.

The final step in the process is to actually take some of this magic compound that I have in this can next to me…ho hooo…wait til you see this trick! A lot of people don’t do this. This is one of the secret “Ask The Builder” tricks! Before I started the job, I went to the sides of the driveway, and I found some sand. And some of this sand came from the stones and the rocks around the driveway, but actually matches perfectly, some of the rocks that are actually in the blacktop. And you go ahead and just sprinkle this sand onto the fresh compound. Look at that. Simple as that! And this sand does 2 things:

#1 – It will prevent tracking, if someone makes a mistake and walks on this material, and from it spreading onto the driveway, it does that. And that’s really important.

#2 – It’s actually gonna help disguise this crack, so that the crack looks more like the actual blacktop, on either side of the crack.

It’s that simple to patch a blacktop crack! I’m Tim Carter for AskTheBuilder.com –

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Oct 22

How to Make Biodiesel

Learn how to make biodiesel that will work in any diesel engine in this tutorial from Make Magazine.

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Oct 21

How to Seal a Potato Chip Bag Without a Clip

Tired of reaching into your kitchen pantry only to find your opened bag of potato chips have gone stale? Learn this easy trick from Howcast.com to resealing a potato chip with a few simple folds.

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Oct 20

How to Decorate – Elegant Halloween Party

How To Decorate for an Elegant Halloween Party (courtesy of UrbanRoute)

If you want a spooktacular Halloween, you have to have the right ambiance. Dah dah dah dah! It’s like magic! I love this time of year! You never know what’s gonna happen. Check out these great hats and this fabulous room! Jill, what have you done in here?

Well, you know we went to town. We made it really elegant, instead of being tacky. Because, Halloween can be that way. So, we went out into nature, went for a nice walk and gathered wonderful twigs and branches and leaves, and we’ve added all kinds of lovely, elegant throws and pumpkins. Even if you don’t carve them, the pumpkins look really fabulous, just around the room.

OK, I love the spiders!

It’s fun, because you can just add a little whimsy with things like that. And, they’re just little magnets. And with the pumpkins, put them around, put them in groups of 3…we even put one inside the blackbird house.

Let’s go check out how you can have the perfect Halloween dinner setting.

We have had SO much fun putting this table together, because it’s wonderful to have the opportunity to be creative with some color from nature. So, the leaves on the table, and, the centerpiece…honestly, it is so simple! There’s sugar, candy corn, black beans and red lentils, and they become the anchor for twigs, and, just get dramatic. Go for some extreme height, add a crow, look at what you get!

Except, I think my son would try to dig down and get the candy out, I’m telling you right now!

Just put some more in another bowl somewhere else – maybe he won’t be so tempted.

But, if you do want a little candy, check out the napkin rings!

Isn’t that fun? Black licorice – you gotta have it! And, just knot it around the napkin that’s just rolled up. And, then, when you’re done, you can eat it! Such a great trick! I also love that this isn’t your classic Halloween orange.

Yes, we’ve gone with a more subdued, cinnamon color, and,it then means you can use it again afterward. I think the final thing is to be organized for your guests. Set up a little bar cart and have all of the things you need handy, so it makes your life easier. Then in the kitchen area, don’t forget to add a bit of drama. You can get wonderful, white mini-pumpkins and mass them in quantity. Use a couple of glass cloches and put some goodies inside of there….branches and pumpkins…and, voila! It’s elegant, yet it’s festive at the same time!

Thank you, Julie. I can’t wait to get home and decorate my house for Halloween! Have a Spooktacular Halloween!

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Oct 17

How to “Unshrink” Your Clothes

Accidentally shrink your favorite cotton shirt in the wash? Learn how to restore your shrunken clothes to their normal size in this tutorial from HouseholdHacker.com

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Oct 10

Halloween How-to – Make a Hot Glue Web Gun

How To Make A Spiderman Web Gun from A Hot Glue Gun (courtesy of MakeMagazine)

Hi! It’s KipKay from Make Magazine with a special Halloween edition of the weekend projects! You know, when you think of Halloween, a lot of things come to mind – like spider webs! I think it’s amazing that a spider, using only his body, can continually create geometrically complex, advanced shapes, that few, if any of us could perfectly duplicate, and even with a pencil and ruler, it’s very complicated for most people to exactly duplicate. Yet, the spider does it with ease! So, the leftover, sticky debris of spiders long gone are so often used for Halloween, that you can buy all sorts of pre-made cobwebs for your haunted house. Well, today, we’re gonna make our very own spider web shooter that spreads the creeps!

You can find the hot glue web gun by Edmond Wise in the special Make Halloween edition, available in the maker shed. Our hot glue web gun starts with a hot glue gun. And, you need one that’s at least 80 watts. The one that I used was 100 watts. Since our web gun is powered by an air compressor, you’re gonna need an air compressor hose, ¼ inch copper tubing and a number of pipe fittings that you can find in your local home improvement store.

Using your spring tube bending tool, you’re gonna bend your ¼ inch copper tubing in a shape so that it’s right next to and about 1/8th of an inch behind the nozzle of the hot glue gun. When you’re all done, it should look similar to this.

Using the tube cutting tool, you’re going to cut off one end and attach your valve, using the compression fittings. Now, this is going to control the airflow going out of our web glue gun. Then, one more piece of copper tubing needs to be cut and attached to our elbow, using the compression fitting, and then that’s all joined together to build this assembly.

Then, using some teflon tape, we’re going to attach our adapter, which will go to a hose bar, and then that hose bar connects to our piece of air compressor tubing, using a hose clamp. Then, one more hose bar by the other end of our tubing, which will go to our quick release pneumatic fitting.

Now, the whole assembly can be attached to the hot glue gun using zip ties, so it can be removed and you can use the hot glue gun as you normally would later.

And, our hot glue web gun is finished and ready to test out! So, it’s time to fire up our air compressor, and we’re gonna get somewhere between 30 and 50 PSI. And then, we’ll attach our air compressor to our new hot glue web gun connection.

The last step is to test your valve, and make sure you’re getting good airflow through your tubing. And, make some spider webs! By adjusting the airflow and the amount of hot glue that
drips out of the nozzle, you can make some pretty impressive webs!

That’s how to make a hot glue web gun for your haunted house! We’ll see you next week with another weekend project!

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Sep 24

How to Clean Leather

Learn how to clean leather with common household items and save money on your drycleaning bills with this video from Howcast.com!

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Sep 03

How to Make Scented Candles

Learn how to make scented soy pillar candles with this video from VideoJug.com

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Aug 26

How to Faux Finish Using a Color Wash

How To Faux Finish Using A Color Wash (courtesy of FauxLikeAPro)

Well, if you’ve got a big area that you’re painting and you can’t decide between 2 colors, you might be able to put them together with a color wash. And, Sandra from Faux Like A Pro is gonna show us how to do it!

Now, this is the colorwash?

Yea! Now, these are the 2 greens that you’re talking about. We’ve got 2 colors that we put together. We’ve got a blue-green and we’ve got some blue color – very complimentary to one another.

The important ingredient here is the glaze. You need a long open time glaze. I’m working with the Faux Like A Pro glaze.

And, open time means it stays wet longer?

Yea. More time to work. And we’re doing a wet on wet technique, so the entire wall needs to stay wet.

Our ratio for this is going to be 5 parts glaze to 1 part color.

The 3rd bucket we’re gonna keep as clear glaze, and that’s gonna be our 3rd color.

Ok, these are color washing brushes. This, again, is a soft-hair brush. The approach here is just to use long, sweeping strokes, because we have a huge wall to cover. I’m just gonna work with the green first, because that is the most dominant color.

Now, notice the spacing I have between each stroke. That’s gonna leave some space for the blue and also the clear glaze.

The blue can intersect with the green a little bit, almost like you’re doing a little blending while you’re stroking. Each time you place your brush down, you need to move to another area.

The final pass is going to be the clear glaze, and, we’re gonna just kind of fill that in and blend with this brush a little bit.

And that’s just gonna soften the colors?

Yes, it softens – all I have is clear glaze on here, and see what’s happening? Pick up a little of the green, and we can kind of just place a little bit in here. And, then, go back in and blend.

Once the glaze is set up, you can basically switch over to what’s called a bristle block brush, and we’re gonna blend this, and we’re also drying up the glaze, because the glaze stays wet for up to an hour.

We’ve got a lot of glaze in here and very little color. And, just by pulling up on this brush, you can eliminate all of those brush strokes if you don’t like them.

Alright – I’m ready to give this a shot!

You ready to go? Ok, good!

Nice, broad strokes – wonderful! And, the angles are important! You know, we don’t want to do vertical, we don’t want to have these angles, and spread the glaze as much as you can. See how beautiful!

And then, the final finish, we’re just gonna do another softening with this bristle block.

Ok, well, Sandra and I are gonna finish up this wall, but, this color wash is a great idea if you’re just looking for a little, subtle color. Beautiful! I can see why this is popular!

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Aug 22

How to Organize your Kitchen

Learn a few inexpensive solutions to keeping your kitchen organized with this video from RestoringOrder.com

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Aug 20

How to Paint Wall Trim

Learn how to paint trim and give your room a professional finish with this video from YouTooCanDo.

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Jul 28

How to Install Laminate Floors

Watch this demonstration video from AskMeDIY and learn a few tips and tricks on how to install laminate flooring.

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Jul 16

How to Remove Wax from your Carpet

Learn how to remove wax from your carpet with this video from HomeServe.com.

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Jun 12

How to Save Money at the Grocery Store

Learn how to save money while shopping at the grocery store in this video from MoneyTalkNews.com

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Jun 11

How to Wire a Four Way Switch

Learn how to wire a 4 way switch in this how-to video demonstration from AskTheBuilder.com

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May 27

How to Fix a Gutter

Learn how to find and fix a leaky gutter in this video from AskTheBuilder.com

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May 19

Decluttering How-to – Organizing a Child’s Room

Learn how to organize a kid’s room and avoid tripping over scattered toys in this video Better.tv

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May 14

How to Clean Leather

Learn how to clean a leather couch in this video from ExpertVillage.

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May 09

How to Recycle a 2 Liter Bottle

How To Recycle A Two-Liter Bottle (courtesy of MakeMagazine)

How To Recycle A Two-Liter Bottle

Earth Day…Two-Liter Recycling

Here’s eight quick and easy ways to recycle a two-liter water bottle:

#1) Save water, money and the environment. Fill up a two liter bottle with water, all the way to the top, and then screw on the cap. Flush your toilet. Drain the tank completely. Put the two-liter water bottle in your tank, and when the tank fills, it will be filled with less water than normal – meaning less water consumption, a decrease in your water bill, and also saving the environment.

#2) Why not cut the top off a bottle and use it as a funnel? You can make a wide assortment and different sizes of funnels, using soda bottles!

#3) Here’s a great way to get rid of annoying insects. Carefully cut through the upper third of a water bottle. Then pour a sweet liquid, like orange juice, into the bottom part of the bottle. Turn the part you cut off upside down, and place it inside the bottom of the bottle. Insects can find their way into the bottle, but they can’t get out.

#4) Make a handy bottle pod. Take off the cap to a two-liter bottle and drill a small hole. Then you’ll need a quarter inch hex bolt and a quarter inch hex nut. Put the bolt through the hole and attach the nut. Then, fill the two-liter bottle with water or sand. Attach your cap mount to the bottom of your camera and screw it onto the bottle, and you’ve got a bottle pod to go!

#5) When working in the yard, you occasionally find a weed that you want to kill, or a number of different weeds, and you don’t want to hurt the surrounding grass. Remove the cap from a two-liter bottle, cut off the bottom of the two-liter bottle, place it over the desired weed, and then spray your weed killer. This also works great on a windy day, keeping the spray contained.

#6) You can make a pretty cool greenhouse with a two-liter bottle, by cutting it about 1/3 down. Cut out a piece of cotton, or you could even use cotton string, and insert the cotton inside the top. Now, put some water in the base and then insert the top, upside down, in the base. Fill the top part of the bottle with potting soil, and you’ve made yourself a recycled greenhouse!

#7) Measure the weather! Cut the top off a two-liter bottle, right where the slope begins. Fill the bottom of the soda bottle with water, just up to the line. Now, using a ruler, measure off inch increments and mark them with a sharpie. You can also make marks for half inches. Flip over the top of the bottle and insert it into the bottom, and your rain gauge is ready to use!

#8) Make a bird feeder! Empty plastic soda bottles make great bird houses! Cut two holes in the bottle, across from each other. Then, using about an 8-inch long wooden dowel, cut out small holes and insert the dowels under the doorways. Fill it with bird feed, and then poke a hole in the bottle top and insert a piece of string. Hang it from your nearest tree or porch, and you’ve made a bird feeder and recycled another two-liter water bottle!

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May 07

How to Save Money – Reducing your Energy Bill

How To Reduce Your Energy Bill (courtesy of MoneyTalksNews)

How To Reduce Your Energy Bill

If you spend about the average to keep your home cooled, heated and powered up throughout the year, then you’re spending about 1500 bucks. Now, obviously in the summer, most of that expense is going to pay your cooling bill, the average somewhere between four and five hundred dollars. If I said you could chill that bill by about 100 bucks this summer (that would be about 20 – 25%), would you be interested? Well, let’s start with the AC unit.

Clear away the debris to keep the air flowing smoothly and check the filter. And keep checking it monthly, throughout the summer. You also want to check and replace your indoor filter.

The next places you’re gonna look to cut costs are your windows and doors. Air loss can blow 15 – 25% of your energy money. So, weather strip those doors and caulk those windows.

A good ceiling fan can also save you serious money. A fan will allow you to set your thermostat at 78 degrees and make it feel like it’s 72. Not bad, considering it only costs about 15 cents to run for every ten hours it’s on.

The thermostat. Now, here’s a place where you can really save some cool cash, because every time you raise this thing just one degree, you can save, on average, about 3% on your energy bill. So, especially while you’re away, raise the temperature 5 degrees, cut your bill by 15%!

Also, do you close the vents in rooms you’re not using? Well, don’t do that! Closing more than 10% of your vents can create an air pressure imbalance that could reduce your air conditioner’s efficiency.

One more tip for staying cool and keeping costs down this summer. Avoid appliances that create heat, especially in the middle part of the day. So, when it gets hot inside and outside, make some lemonade and lay on the sofa!

For MoneyTalks, I’m Stacey Johnson…

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Apr 11

How to Install a Kitchen Facet

Watch this demonstration from AskTheBuilder 0n how to install a kitchen facet. It will make installation a breeze!

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Mar 27

Siding How-to – Painting Wood Siding

Learn how to paint your wood siding properly in this video demonstration from AskTheBuilder.com

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Mar 21

How to Clean – Green Cleaning

Learn how to clean your home with chemical free cleaners made with common kitchen ingredients in this video from frasermcgl.

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Mar 10

Home Repair Instruction – How-To Install an Outlet Box

Learn how to install an outlet box and how to easily wire the switch box in this home repair video from AskTheBuilder.com!

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Feb 25

Recycle Crafts – Recycled Plastic Messenger Bag

Learn how to use old grocery shopping bags to create a fused recycled plastic messenger bag with this video from Make Magazine.

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    Feb 05

    Decluttering How-To – Organizing your Home Office

    Watch this decluttering how to video from CNN.com for some simple organization solutions for your home office.

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    Feb 04

    How to Steam Clean your Carpets

    Get carpet cleaning tips & techniques on steam cleaning your own carpet with a rug doctor in this how-to video demonstration from ExpertVillage.com

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    Jan 28

    How to Stop Junk Mail

    Junk mail… it’s not only a pain, but a waste of paper! If you’d like to start the year with a cleaner mailbox watch this video from MoneyTalkNews.com

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    Jan 11

    How-To Feng Shui your Home

    Get some great ideas on how to Feng Shui your home with this video from Domino Magazine.

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    Dec 19

    Plumbing How-To – Installing Drain Pipes

    Learn how to install a drain system for a kitchen sink and different ways to configure it for your own plumbing situation with this video from YouTooCanDo.

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    Dec 12

    Paint Removal How-To

    Learn some basic paint removal tips with this easy to follow how-to video from AskTheBuilder.com

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    Oct 11

    How to Organize Cables and Wires

    Learn how to organize your cables with an inexpensive towel holder with this video from Unclutterer.com

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    Oct 03

    How to Make A Lady Gaga VMA Costume for Halloween

    How To Make A Lady Gaga VMA Costume for Halloween (courtesy of Threadbanger.com)

    Level of Difficulty – Intermediate

    Time of Project – 3.5 hours

    We’re gonna start by making the crown. First, spray paint 2 sides of a poster board red. Let it dry, and spray one side with quick spray adhesive. Then, place a square of red lace fabric on top of it, pressing down to secure it.

    Let it dry, then mark out the spiky points of the crown. Cut out the spikes, and use a hot glue gun to reinforce each one.

    Glue the 2 ends of the crown together to form a cylinder that’s big enough to fit your head, while wearing a wig. Spray some more red paint to the tips of the spikes and let it dry.

    Now, you need to make something to wear under the lace for warmth and modesty! Use a piece of stretch-knit, flesh colored fabric and stretch it around the intended costume wearer. Pinch and pin it down the back, and mark down both sides of the pin line with tailor’s chalk.

    Unpin it from the wearer, and pin it back together again on your table. Sew down the pin line, using a zigzag stitch. Fold in hem along the top, also using a zigzag stitch.

    Let the wearer try it on again, and mark chalk lines on the back and front to make mock undies.

    Transfer the lines to the lace, and pin the pieces of fabric together. Sew along the chalk lines with a zigzag and cut off the excess fabric. Repeat for the back, and you have the illusion of wearing sexy lace undies!

    Next, we have a long piece of lace, lay it over your model, and cut a hole big enough for their head to fit through. Pinch and pin, starting under the armpit, going down both sides of the wearer.

    Use tailor’s chalk to mark out where the shoulders start, extending to the armpit, going all the way down the pin line. Remove the piece, pin it back together, and cut off the fabric outside of your chalk line.

    Sew the sides of the garment together, using a zigzag stitch, starting at the armpit. Now, make sleeves by finding the middle of another piece of fabric and pinning it to the armhole, right sides together, until you reach the armpit. Sew together with a zigzag stitch.

    Have your model try on the garment, and pinch and pin the sleeve part around the arm. Mark along the pin line with chalk, take it off, re-pin and sew it closed with a zigzag stitch.

    Cut off all excess fabric, and make the other sleeve, using the first as a guide. When we return, we’ll show you how to complete your look.

    Welcome Back! So, you’ve got the fundamentals to your Lady Gaga costume complete. Now, there’s only a couple more steps left, and you’re done!

    Alright, so the next thing you want to do is cut yourself a piece of lace roughly 1 ½ ft x 1 ½ ft. Fold the fabric in half, and then, at the top of your lace, trace a small hood shape. Then, sew along your line, cut off the excess, turn it inside out, and you got yourself a hood!

    Alright, next step, you need a train of lace fabric for the back. This piece needs to be about as tall as you are, and almost like a triangle, trailing off at the end.

    Now, pin and attach the train to the back of the collar by gathering and sewing together from one end to the other.

    Next, take your hood, and pin it to the front of your collar. Then, like the train, sew it on with a zigzag stitch from one side to the other.

    Lastly, make yourself a couple of holes for your fingers to make some fingerless gloves, throw on a blonde wig, some sexy red shoes, and you’re ready for the paparazzi!

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    Oct 01

    How to Decorate – Making a Great First Impression

    Learn how to decorate your entry way or foyer to make a great first impression with this video from ForYourImagination.com


    Online Videos by Veoh.com

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    Sep 23

    How to Cut Ceramic Tile

    Learn how to cut ceramic tile with this video from AskTheBuilder.com

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    Sep 23

    How to Decorate a Wall with Picture Frames

    Learn how to decorate a wall with picture frames with this video from FordModels.tv

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    Sep 16

    How to Organize your Closet

    Learn a few simple tips on how to organize your closet with this video from AskTheDecorator.com

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    Sep 06

    How to Measure Windows for Curtains

    Learn how to measure for window treatments and curtains with this video from AJMoss.com

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    Sep 06

    How to Install a Window Valance

    Learn how to quickly and easily install a window valance with this video from Window-Valance-Patterns.com

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    Sep 01

    How to Hang Wallpaper – Glue Activation

    How To Activate Wallpaper Glue (courtesy of AskTheBuilder)

    Modern wallpapers like this one often come from the factory pre-pasted. That’s ok! It’s really a good material, that paste. But, what the problem is, is remember, when you get it wet, or you use an activator to make it get wet, it starts to expand the paper! And, you need to make sure it expands on the table, not up on the wall!

    Before you put the piece of paper up and even paste it, you’ve got to go ahead and cut a part off. Don’t worry about getting it perfectly straight, because you’re gonna trim the paper, once it’s up on the wall.

    If the paper is pre-pasted, I get the best results from activating the glue with an activator, instead of with water. These products just brush on the paper. And, what you do, is you actually mix this product with water, wait about 30 minutes, and the final result is a really neat gel, that’s a little thicker than water, but boy, does it go on the paper easily!

    This process is called “relaxing” by the professional wallpaper hangers. What’s really happening, is that once you’ve got the whole piece of paper glued, and you’ve activated that glue, the paper starts to expand, and it just needs to relax. You go ahead and fold the paper back on itself, like this. Don’t push down hard on these ends – you don’t want to make a real hard crease. That’s not a good thing.

    And, then, you just sit back yourself and relax for about 5 minutes, until it’s ready to hang the paper.

    I’m Tim Carter with Ask The Builder!

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    Aug 04

    How to Install a Faucet

    Learn how to install a kitchen faucet in a few easy steps with this video from YouTooCanDo.

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    Aug 04

    How to Cut Cement Board

    Learn how to cut cement board with this video from AskTheBuilder.com

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    Aug 03

    How to Upholster a Dining Seat

    Learn how to upholster a dining room seat just like the pros with this video from Upholster.com

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    Jul 29

    How to Save on your Energy Bills

    Learn a few simple ways to save money and energy with this video from MoneyTalksNews.com

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    Jul 26

    How to Install a Phone Jack

    Save some money and learn how to install your own phone jacks with this video from AskTheBuilder.com

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    Jul 15

    How to Start a Butterfly Garden

    Learn how to start your own butterfly garden with this video from Osmocote.com

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    Jul 13

    How Upholster a Chair

    Learn how to reupholster a dining room chair with this video from ReadyMadeMag.com.

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    Jul 13

    How to Clean Up an Oil Spill

    Learn how to clean up an oil stain on your driveway or concrete with this video from AskTheBuilder.com.

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    Jun 13

    How to Clean Windows

    Learn how to make your windows sparkle with this video from AskTheBuilder.com

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    Jun 05

    How to Arrange Flowers

    Learn how to arrange flowers to decorate your home with this video from AskTheDecorator.com

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    Jun 04

    How to Make a Secret Safe

    Learn how to make a secret safe out of a whipped cream can with this video from HackerDaily.com.

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    Jun 04

    How to Take Care of your Lawn

    Learn how to maintain your lawn and keep it looking great all year long with this video from bucslim.

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    Jun 04

    How to Fix a Leaky Gutter

    Learn how to fix your gutter and prevent future leaks with this video from AskTheBuilder.com

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    May 05

    How to Collectible Magazines and Books

    Learn how to clean your collectible books and magazines without damaging them with this video from Molly1216.

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    Apr 27

    How to Grow a Container Garden

    Learn how to grow herbs in a container garden in this video from AboutEating.com.

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    Apr 20

    How to Tie a Bowline Knot

    Learn how to tie a useful bowline knot with this video from tchoctube.

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    Apr 07

    How to Hang a Picture

    Learn how to hang pictures in your home and avoid commonly made mistakes and damage to walls with this video from

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    Apr 07

    How to Replace a Fuse

    Learn how to replace a fuse with this video from pelagiclighpictures. Please proceed with caution!

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    Apr 01

    How to Build Stairs in a Retaining Wall

    How To Build Stairs In A Retaining Wall (courtesy of AllanBlock.com)

    Whether built directly into the wall, in front of the wall, or sweeping off to the side, stairs are a great addition to almost any project!

    When building stairs, choose your path wisely, and find the most natural path to maintain a comfortable rhythm to your stairway. You can break up long sets of steps with landings. Add a turn in in the landing, and break up a stair line. Or, use switch-backs or serpentines to meander up the hill. Tackle your slope by matching your stairway design to the natural grade of your slope.

    On steep slopes, keep the blocks tight together. With AllenBlock, you get an 8-inch rise and a 12-inch run.

    On gentle slopes, add pavers or other materials to increase the depth of the tread and the length of the run.

    Landings are another way to soften a long stairway, and are an easy way to tie sets of steps together.

    Stairs can be designed with flowing curves or straight lines.

    Curved sidewalls create a softer look.

    Straight sidewalls and corners create a crisp look, but will require more time to build.

    Before you begin, you must determine how many steps you will need. Measure the total rise of your slope in inches, and divide by 8, which is the height of the blocks. Be sure to factor in any code requirements before you prep the site.

    In this example, we will show you how to build stairs into a wall, using flowing curves. Remember, always begin building at the stair location, and build out.

    Excavate the stairs. Once the number of steps has been determined, excavate the stair location, based on the rise and run in your approved plans.

    The minimum width for a base trench is 24 inches.

    The depth of the trench is determined by allowing for 6 inches of face material, plus 1 inch per foot of wall height. If organic or wet soils are still present in the base trench area, they must be removed and replaced with granular material.

    Excavate the base trench to the necessary depth. Then, compact and level the base trench, making a minimum of 2 passes with a mechanical plate compactor.

    Place the drain pipe at the lowest possible point, toward the back of the trench that can be vented to daylight every 50 feet.

    Now that the base trench is ready, place a minimum of 6 inches of wall rock in the base trench and rake smooth. Compact the base, making a minimum of 2 passes.

    Install the base course. Place the blocks toward the front of the trench, allowing for a minimum of 6 inches behind the blocks.

    Then, fill in the area in front of the blocks with on site soils. This will keep the base course blocks from shifting, while filling and compacting.

    Fill the hollow course – 12 inches behind the block, and the stair location – with wall rock.

    Back fill and compact. Compact behind the block, in a path parallel to the wall, working from the back of the block to the back of the back fill area. Make a minimum of 2 passes with a mechanical plate compactor. Always compact in 8-inch lengths or less.

    Remember to keep all heavy equipment at least 3 feet away from the back of the blocks.

    Remove any excess soil from the top surface of the blocks by sweeping the blocks clean with a broom.

    Use a level to scrape a stair tread area. Then, check the level from front to back and side to side, making sure the stair tread is level with the top of the first course of blocks.

    Install the stair riser. Measure the distance for the next stair riser, and place the blocks, making sure to allow for 6 inches behind the block.

    Measure the distance between the stairs to make sure that the blocks are parallel with the stairs in front.

    Place a temporary block on top of the wall, close enough so that you can place a 4-foot level from the block to the stair riser block. This will ensure the stair riser block will be level with the rest of the wall. Then, level and adjust the rest of the stair riser block.

    To continue building your wall out from the stair location, break the wings off the blocks by striking the wing with a hammer, to obtain a clean break. Then, place the blocks tight together, following the layout on the approved plans, making adjustments as necessary.

    You can place a small amount of wall rock under the blocks to level them, then check again for level and make adjustments if necessary.

    Place a small amount of wall rock in front of the blocks for the stair riser, to keep them from shifting during compaction.

    Fill the hollow cores, 12 inches behind the block, and the next stair location with wall rock. Then, back fill any remaining area behind the wall rock with on site soils.

    Run the plate compactor over the top of the blocks where there are 2 or more courses, and behind the block where there is only 1 course.

    Continue compacting the wall rock behind the wall, as well as the excavated area of the next stair riser.

    Screen the next stair tread area, and check for level from front to back and side to side.

    Continue building. Measure the tread area to make sure it is parallel, and at the correct distance. Place the next temporary block to level the stair riser, and check for level.

    Continue building the wall out from the stair location. Place some fill in front of the blocks. Fill the hollow cores and behind the blocks with wall rock. Fill in any remaining areas with on site soil. Then, run the plate compactor over the top of the blocks where there are 2 or more courses, and behind the blocks when there is only 1 course.

    Continue compacting the wall rock behind the wall, as well as the excavated area of the next stair riser. Continue this process to the top of your wall.

    Place the blocks for your next stair riser and measure for parallel and distance. Place a temporary block and adjust for level.

    Build the wall out from the stair location.

    Add fill in front of the blocks.

    Fill the cores, behind the wall and the stair tread with wall rock.

    Back fill any remaining areas and compact.

    On the last course of the wall, you can choose to fill the block cores and the entire back fill area with plantable soils, to finish off your wall.

    In this example, we’ve shown you how to build stairs into a wall. You can also build stairs in front of a wall, using curves, right angles or sweep them along the wall.

    Or, let your imagination run wild, and create your own stair design! You can finish your stair treads with 1 of these options: AB capstones, AB capstones and pavers, pavers, or concrete. Choose the style that best compliments your landscape!

    To enhance your project, view the other building options, or visit us at AllanBlock.com

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    Apr 01

    How to Use Caulk

    How To Use Caulk (courtesy of Ask The Builder)

    You might think that when you’re getting ready to paint the inside of a room – both the walls, the woodwork, the trim, everything else – that to get a great job instead of a good job, that the 2 most important tools are the roller and the paintbrush. Guess what? You’re wrong! The most important tool to use, before you even get started, is a caulk gun. The reason that the caulk gun is son important, is that you use this tool to fill all those troublesome gaps between the woodwork and the wall. If you don’t fill those before you paint, after you’re finished painting, it just looks really tacky!

    The key to caulking is to make sure that the size of the hole where the caulk comes out of the tube is just right. So, cut off little pieces of the tube, until you start to expose the end of the tube, to get the hole just right.

    You want the size of the hole at the end of the caulk tube to match the width of the crack.

    You need to make sure before you actually caulk that you purchase the right caulk. Look for one that says siliconized acrylic, or paintable. And, once you’ve got the tip cut, it’s time to caulk!

    Simply take the caulk gun and put it right at the crack, and start to gently squeeze the trigger until a small amount of caulk comes out. Don’t put on too much; there’s no need for a lot of caulk.

    Stop the caulk gun. Then, take your finger and use it to go ahead and smooth the caulk inside the joint. But, you’re not finished yet! You take a sponge with very little water in it, and a couple of strokes down the caulk joint, and you are good to go!

    Caulking is really simple, and makes a big difference on your paint project! I’m Tim Carter, with AskTheBuilder.com!

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    Mar 23

    How to Make a Lock Pick with a Hairpin

    Learn how to make a lock pick with a hairpin with this video from Pick Jiggler.

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    Feb 28

    How to Make a Compass

    How to make a compass with common household items with this video from EvilMadScientist.com.

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    Feb 28

    How to Make String Art

    Learn how to make string art with Todd Oldham with this video from HandmadeModern

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    Feb 28

    How to Make Solar Panels

    Learn how to make a solar panel that can power a radio or cell phone with this video from Graham Knight.

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    Feb 24

    How to Clean Brick

    Learn how to clean your brick patio or walkway with this video from AskTheBuilder.com.

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    Feb 16

    How to Make an Ottoman

    Furniture you can put your feet on! Learn how to make a cool ottoman with this video from Handmade Modern.

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    Feb 16

    How to Make a Cool Magnetic Flower Vase

    Learn how to make a spill proof magnetic flower vase with this video from Curbly.com.

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    Feb 14

    How to Cut Crown Molding

    Learn how to cut crown molding for inside and outside corners with this video from AskTheBuilder.com.

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    Feb 14

    How to Install Laminate Flooring

    Laminate flooring uses the floating installation method, which means, laminate floors just rest on top of the subfloor. Learn some basics on how to install laminate floors with this video from LumberLiquidators.com.

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    Feb 02

    How to Make your Valentines Day Roses Last

    Learn how to make your Valentines Day roses last twice as long with this video from 1800Flowers.

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    Jan 19

    How to Fold a Shirt, A Unique Japanese Video

    This video on how to fold a shirt may be in Japanese, but its quite easy to follow!

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    Jan 19

    How to Iron a Shirt

    Iron out the wrinkles! Learn how to iron a shirt with this quick video from ViewDo.com.

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    Jan 19

    How to Paint Walls

    Learn how to paint interior walls from the professionals with this video from DIYamo.com!

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    Jan 12

    How to Sharpen a Knife

    Learn how to sharpen a knife with a sharpening stone to prolong the life of your expensive cooking knives with this video from www.TheHungryCuban.com.

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    Jan 03

    How to Store Christmas Lights, Tangle Free!

    This short video demonstrates an ingenious way to store your Christmas lights, tangle-free, using only a plastic bag from the grocery store!

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    Jan 01

    How to Make Fireworks with Just Steel Wool and Wire

    This video of how to make fireworks with just steel wool and wire is from Thomas.

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    Dec 29

    How to Control Your Roomba with a Wii Remote

    This awesome video shows how you can control your Roomba vacuum with your Wii remote from your Nintendo Wii!

    You may also find these helpful (click on the picture for more information):

    iRobot Roomba 4210 Discovery Floorvac Robotic Vacuum, White
    iRobot Roomba

    Wii Remote Controller
    Wii Remote Controller

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    Dec 05

    How to Assemble a Samson Juicer

    How To Assemble A Samson Juicer (courtesy of SheDevilEsq)

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    Dec 05

    How to Clean a Samson Juicer

    How To Clean A Samson Juicer (courtesy of AdventuresInRawFood.com)

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    Dec 04

    How to Disassemble a Samson Juicer

    How To Disassemble A Samson Juicer (courtesy of AdventuresInRawFood.com)

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    Nov 15

    How to Fold a Shirt

    How To Fold A Shirt (courtesy of Eric Morris)

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