Home Woodworking Tips for The Home Handyman

Woodworking is one of the oldest and most rewarding skills to acquire. The plus side of this practice is that even an amateur can accomplish numerous practical things like making a garden bench or fixing a broken drawer. The secret to achieving success in woodworking is knowing the right project to work on. Plus, as with any other learning experience, it’s essential that you first master the simple skills before moving to the more complicated ones. Otherwise, the final product will turn out to be less satisfactory than you expected. Explore these home woodworking tips to get a handle on your own carpentry skills.

The Handyman’s Home Woodworking Tips

Read on and gain proven home woodworking tips to help make you an accomplished woodworker as you hone your skills further.

Always Have Protective Gear

Before engaging in any woodworking endeavors, it is crucial to have the appropriate protective gear. Protecting your eyes, ears, fingers, and other body parts should take priority over any projects you have. Even if you are only using the handy tools, splinters and wood shavings can sometimes catch your exposed eyes. In extreme cases, possibly damage your eyes and hinder your chances of becoming a talented woodworker.

Ensure to protect your eyes using eye protection goggles. A good pair of earmuffs are also great for protecting your ears from extreme noise that can damage your ears. Also, ensure that you protect your fingers as well using well-fitting leather gloves. Safety comes first.

Prepare A Simple Woodworking Setup

You do not need to have an expensive, fancy workshop to create a masterpiece. A temporary workshop table in the backyard will do provided you have all the right materials and tools. You can also create a simple workshop in the garage if you have one. This way, you won’t have to set it up and take it down every time.

Start Simple

Every professional woodworker had to have started from somewhere. Therefore, selecting the perfect first project is vital as it’s what makes or breaks you as a woodworker. You may end up being bogged down, especially in the details if you take on too ambitious projects. The result may also not be what you hoped, which may demoralize your woodworking ambitions.

Start small and simple, then gradually work your way up and add more difficult skills as you become more proficient.

Use the Essential Tools

Most woodworking endeavors involve the use of tools essential for making the making work easier and safer. Buying all the woodworking tools at once can be overwhelming and quite expensive. Then you also have to learn to use all of these tools which may not be as easy.

However, if you start by purchasing only the basic and most essential tools for your woodwork endeavors, you can start building in no time. Some of the essential woodwork tools include:

  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Hand saw
  • Hammer
  • Miter square
  • Screwdriver
  • Simple miter box

Fine-Tune a Few Basic Skills

After a few woodwork projects, you should have a pretty good feel and know how to use the tools on the wood. In the process, your confidence also improves as you learn to use more power tools with time. Over time, you will become a pro at using most of the woodworking tools available.

Final Thoughts on Home Woodworking

The secret to having a successful woodworking project is by starting simple. You can even make several similar projects and items provided it helps to hone your woodworking skills.

Weatherize Your Home Against Floods

Natural disasters like floods are rare, and they don’t only occur out in the country side. Urban areas can have flooding too. Runoff from buildings, parking lots, or streets can overpower the city sewers. It can back up sewage into your basement. Fortunately, you can take steps to weatherize your home against floods. 

 

Each area has a flood level, which you can check. FEMA’s website has a Flood Map Service, where you can type in your address, and it tells you whether you’re located in a flood zone. A little bit of research can prevent a lot of trouble later on. 

  • It may seem like the most obvious thing to do, but a lot of people don’t do this. Raise up your electrical and climate systems, to at least a foot above any expected flooding. Do the same with outdoor equipment. If you have air conditioning, or generators located outside, they should be anchored and raises as well. Leaving a generator on the ground during a flood means it will take in water and you will probably be left without electricity. 
  • Sewage washing into the basement is a real possibility in a flood. To prevent that from happening, you can have a sewage water backstop installed by a licensed plumber. If you are building a home, installing one is much cheaper than to do so in an existing structure, about $1,000 or more. However, don’t let the price deter you. Not having one will cost you much more in damages. 
  • Clean out your eavestroughs and downspouts in dry weather, at least twice a year. If  not, you might find that during a flood, or heavy rain, water will collect in your roof, downspouts, and eavestroughs can find its way into your home, due to clogging. You can also add extensions to your downspouts to carry water far enough away from your foundation. 
  • Look for holes and cracks. These could be in your foundation, and can be completely filled in with vinyl concrete patching. If there are holes and cracks in the eavestroughs, downspouts, or any extensions, these can be sealed with silicon caulk. Even a trickle can cause mold in your basement, over time. 
  • A sump pump is a convenient, and effective flood control method. How a sump pump works, is by digging a shallow pit in the basement, and by placing a small pump inside. As water starts to collect in the pit during storms, it is pumped out through tubing, outside the home. All sump pumps are not alike, and they have different capacities. Make sure you’re using the correct one for your home, and that it’s hooked up with plenty of power. 
  • Flood insurance is a must. Most people seem to think that their home insurance covers floods, but that is not a fact. After natural disasters, plenty of people affected are found not to have flood insurance, because they thought they already had it. Do the search to find out if you’re in a flood risk area, and if you are, get yourself some flood insurance. 

 

Ultimately, if you’re tired of the endless flooding, and constant damage to your home, consider relocating to a low flood risk area. In the long run, it might turn out to be the best option for you, and save you money, and keep your peace of mind, in the future. 

 

Guide to a Greener Lawn

Does it seem like having top quality grass in your lawn is unachievable? Does your lawn keep up with the neighbors? We have a simple lawn care guide that will get you results, that will make your neighbors green with envy.

 

  • The first mistake to avoid is cutting the grass too low. You might think that it will grow better if you cut it very short, however that’s not the case. Longer grass lets the soil remain cooler for longer, by trapping in the moisture. Essentially, it acts as a living mulch. Don’t cut more than 1/3rd of the grass at one time. Cutting it too much can cause the grass to burn and turn brown. 
  • Before you start to cut, check your blade. You want to be using a sharp blade. A dull blade will not only tear the grass, but will also allow pathogens to enter the grass, leading to disease. Check your blades regularly, and sharpen or replace as required. 
  • Over time, the soil in your yard becomes compacted. With heavy use, this process is sped up. Why is compacted soil bad? That’s because compacted soil leads to poor water retention, and shallow root. This means air, water, and nutrients are unable to penetrate the soil deep enough to allow the roots to develop. The soil needs to be aerated at least once a year. You can do this by using an aerator.
  • For a great lawn, you need to ‘scarify’. Also known as dethatching, it is the process of removing thatch, or dead debris, like leaves, old grass, etc., which builds up in yards. Scarifying should be done in the spring and over fall. For spring, only need some light dethatching, with a rake. In the fall however, you will need to do heavier dethatching, using a specific thatching rake or a motorized dethatcher. 
  • Water is crucial for your lawn. A healthy lawn needs sufficient water. You know your lawn is thirsty if it looks dull, lacks color, and grows poorly. Depending on what kind of lawn you have, you need to water accordingly. A sandy or well drained soil needs about one inch of water. Clay or compacted soils need only about half an inch. The best time to water your lawn is early in the morning. And make sure you never cut your grass when it’s wet. It’s a common mistake that will lead to unevenly cut grass, and can also pave the way for diseases. 
  • Fertilizing can be an overlooked step in lawn care. However, fertilizing can really add some much needed luster to your lawn. Potassium rich fertilizers are good to use in the fall and winter, to promote cold resistant grass. In the spring, use fertilizers that are rich in nitrogen, as that will stimulate vegetative growth. 
  • No doubt, you have spent some amount of time wrestling with weeds. Once weeds have crept in, they are extremely difficult to get rid of. Keeping your lawn well cut on a regular basis will actually keep many weeds at bay. But you will need weedkiller or a weeding tool for the more stubborn ones. And make sure you pull them out by the roots if you’re weeding by hand, or they will be back. 

 

Your lawn is a living plant, and its proper care depends on the type of soil, variety of grass, and the regional climate. Getting a lush, green lawn is not difficult, with a little bit of care.

 

How to Clean Your Gutters

Have the beautiful leaves of fall clogged up your gutters? Does the prospect of cleaning out your gutters seem daunting? After all, no one really wants to crawl around the roof and get gunk out of gutters and pipes. There is a better way to clean your gutters. This is where power tools come in. 

 

Power Washer

Most people think about cleaning their gutters right after a storm has hit. If so, you’ll find that the leaves on the ground are sticky and wet, and quite difficult to get out of the gutters. A good tool to use in this case, is a power washer. A high pressure power washer has a lot of force behind it, so it is recommended to use a telescoping wand, so that you can clean the gutters from the ground level, and the water’s force will be directed, and not everywhere. Once you’re finished with the power washer, debris will litter the ground, and can be picked up with a rake, or swept away with a broom. Keep in mind that the debris may also be washed onto your siding and windows, and you’ll have to clean that too. It is a good idea to remove any patio furniture before you start cleaning. 

 

Leaf Blower

Another good power tool is a leaf blower. It eliminates any tedious raking. Using a leaf blower means you won’t have to clean your gutters by hand. A leaf blower is not the best tool if you’re dealing with wet leaves and debris. But if it’s dry weather, and there’s been no rain, then a leaf blower will do the job well. The easiest, and most straightforward method is to climb a ladder to your roof, and walk along the edge, carefully, and blow the leaves out of the gutter. A safer way to do this, is to use an extension kit, which will extend, as well as curve the leaf blower’s reach, so you don’t need to get up on the roof, and can get the gutters clean while standing on the ground. If this is your preferred method, make sure you wear safety goggles, as the leaves and debris will fall to the ground, probably directly on you. This method is effective, but messy. 

 

Wet and Dry Vacuum

Not so much for your gutters, but to clean the mess left on the ground once you have cleaned the gutters, a wet/dry vacuum will suck it all up. 

 

Take Precautions

Now that you know the best ways to get your gutters clean, a word of caution. Keep yourself safe by using an extension ladder if your rooftop is very high. Wear thick work gloves, and protective goggles. If you absolutely don’t have to walk on the roof, don’t do it. Before you clean the gutters, make sure all the debris on the roof itself is cleaned, otherwise your gutters will clog as soon as it rains. And don’t do it alone, if you can get a second person to help you, by holding the ladder. Be safe, and you’ll have your gutters clean in no time.

 

How to Maintain Your Lawn in a Drought

Are you in a drought and wondering if your plants will live through the summer? Whether it’s a drought, or water shortages due to water restrictions, they can really take a toll on your lawn. However, maintaining a healthy, green lawn doesn’t have to be very difficult, or very expensive. There are ways to develop a drought tolerant lawn. Here are some techniques you can use to maintain your lawn in a drought. 

 

The most important thing is to know your climate. What climate are you growing your lawn in? How much rain will you get? What sort of soil conditions do you have? Is your lawn in a completely sunny spot, or do you have part shade? When you understand your climate before planting, it can and will save you time and money, and also give you the results you wanted. 

 

Once you understand your climate, you’ll know the correct plants to choose for your lawn. There are hundreds of drought tolerant plants, that will survive with very little water. Some drought tolerant plants are:

  • Succulents
  • Cactus
  • Hummingbird bush
  • Bougainvillea
  • Black Eyed Susans
  • Gerberas 
  • Blazing Stars Ajuga
  • Coneflower ‘Echinacea’

 

Your grass will also need to be drought tolerant. You can select grass seeds like:

  • Zoysia Grass
  • St. Augustine’s Grass
  • Common Bermuda Grass
  • Seashore Paspalum
  • Kentucky Bluegrass

 

These are just a few examples, there are many more grass seeds and plants you can choose, depending on your taste and how you want your lawn to look. 

 

Another option is to use native plants and flowers. Using native species preserve your region’s ecology, it is an inexpensive way to add color to your garden. But the best thing about using native species is that they will thrive with little attention, water, or care, as they have already adapted to the area’s climate and soil. 

 

Consider pollinator plants. They are a great way to maintain a healthy ecosystem in your garden. Plants that attract pollinators, invite some of nature’s hardest workers, who will give you a helping hand in maintaining your landscape. They also add some additional color. 

 

What is a lawn without water? Part of knowing how to maintain healthy lawn is to learn to water wisely, especially when resources are strained. When watering, there are four main things to keep in mind:

 

  • Keep an eye on the weather forecast. If it’s going to rain, don’t water the lawn. Let the rain do the work, and save your water. 
  • Don’t over water. Wait until your grass begins to show signs of drought before you water. This way, the lawn is getting water only when needed. 
  • Water deep – this means you are watering less often, but more deeply. Really drench your lawn, so the water soaks in. 
  • Maintain a regular watering schedule. And always in the early morning before the sun rises. This way you prevent evaporation, and the water will have enough time to soak into the soil. 

 

These few techniques will make the best of your water usage, and you can do a lot more with limited resources. If watering on a schedule is not something you can manage, then you can install an irrigation system that runs on a timer. These are less expensive than you might think, and a great way to water without having to add to your daily chores.

 

How to Fix a Sliding Screen Door that Sticks

Most of us at some time or another, have experienced a screen door that is sticking. An ideally operating screen door should function easily, with a smooth gliding motion, allowing you to open and close it with one hand. You shouldn’t have to use any force. If your screen door is sticking, it’s probably more than just inconvenient – maybe some parts or materials have worn out or broken. If you have to continue to use force to operate the door, then chances are something will break anyway, and you’ll have to replace it. Learning how to fix a sliding screen door will save you unnecessary expense. 

 

First, pay attention to whether your screen door is making any unusual sounds. Is it just the sounds, or is it also difficult to move? If it is one, or the other, or both, you may benefit from the following tips and techniques.

 

  1. Check the track to see that it is clean. This I one of the most common issues with a sliding screen door – dirty track. Over time, that’s where dust, pet hair, and other small debris can accumulate, make the door stick, and hard to move. Vacuum the track using the crevice tool, and scrub gently to remove any dirt that is caked on. 

 

  1. Your sliding door will have a lightweight metal frame, which can bend or warp with a lot of use. If you want to check whether the door is bowed, you will have to remove it from the track. To do this the right way:
  • Grip the door from both sides, and gently lift up to engage the spring assembly;
  • When the wheels are clear off the track, pull the door toward you, then downward, until it is free from the frame;
  • Lay the door on a flat and level surface, then check if any of the corners are lifted;
  • If there is any bowing, gently bend the frame in the opposite direction until it lays flat;

 

  1. The tension on the door may need to be adjusted. Use the adjustment screws near the wheels, either on the top or the bottom of the door, to adjust the tension. Turn the screw clockwise half a turn, to raise the door, or counterclockwise to lower it. Then test the door to see if it stops sticking. 

 

  1. If the wheels are broken, or the spring-load needs to be replaced, you will need to remove the door. Use the method described above to remove it. To remove wheels, use a screwdriver to pry them out, and take them with you when you go to the hardware store, so you know you’re getting the exact replacements. 

 

If the problem is the spring-load, you will need a workable replacement part. If you have the parts, you may be able to drill the rivets out, and then rivet in a replacement. 

 

A sliding screen door that won’t shut all the way, doesn’t do anything to keep insects, dust, and debris out. With a few simple tweaks, you should be able to keep your door in good shape for years to come. 

 

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