Workbench Weekly eTip
 

Archive for July, 2009

Many Handy Uses for a Coat Hanger

Friday, July 31st, 2009

An old wire coat hanger can become a versatile “multi-tool” around the shop or garage. If you bend a small loop in one end, you can use it to easily “fish” electrical wire through a wall (Photo). Or place double-sided tape on the loop to use the hanger to pick up small parts that fall into hard-to-reach spaces.

Have a nice weekend,

Wyatt Myers

Editor, Workbench

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (19 votes, average: 2.58 out of 5)
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Quick & Easy Drywall Sanding

Friday, July 24th, 2009

Sanding drywall joint compound in corners — especially where the ceiling meets the walls — can be tricky with a standard sanding block.

Luckily, there’s an easier way to sand these corners smooth. Just trim a drywall sanding screen to fit the pad of a palm sander, turn the sander on, and then sand up into the corners. The vibrating action of the sander smooths the corners without the tedious back-and-forth motion required when sanding by hand.

Have a nice weekend,

Wyatt Myers

Editor, Workbench

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (10 votes, average: 3.20 out of 5)
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Try a Trimhead for Hidden Screws

Friday, July 17th, 2009

If you ever need to screw something together without the screwheads being visible, try a trimhead screw. The trimhead was designed for installing trim, molding, and cabinets. It offers more holding power than a finish nail but installs almost as inconspicuously.

As the Illustration at right shows, the diameter of the head on a trimhead screw is much smaller — only slightly larger than a finish nail. That makes these screws ideal for installing trim and molding because the small hole can be filled with putty, rather than having to be filled with a wood plug.

Also, the shank on a trimhead screw is straight and has a small diameter, rather than being tapered like a woodscrew. Plus the tip is self-tapping. That helps the screw drive easily, hold well, and resist stripping.

Have a nice weekend,

Wyatt Myers

Editor, Workbench

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (11 votes, average: 4.64 out of 5)
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Seal Exterior Gaps Easily

Friday, July 10th, 2009

When sealing gaps on the exterior of your home, it’s best to stick to this simple rule: Don’t try to caulk a gap more than 3/8″ wide by 3/8″ deep. If you fill a larger gap with caulk, the caulk will shrink, and then split or pull away from one side of the opening.

Instead, fill most of the gap with foam backer rod. It’s available in several diameters, so you should be able to find one just larger than the width of the gap.

To use backer rod, start off by simply cutting the length you need from the roll. Then press the rod into the gap—a wide putty knife works great—so it sits about 1/4″ below the surface (Photo, above). If the gap is deep, you can double up the backer rod to fill more space. Then apply caulk over the backer rod as usual to seal the gap (Illustration).

Have a nice weekend,

Wyatt Myers

Editor, Workbench

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (6 votes, average: 4.50 out of 5)
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Find the Best Ladder for the Job

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

Selecting an extension ladder takes more than just measuring how high you need to reach. To get the right ladder, you need to determine the ladder length needed, decide on the duty rating, and choose the ladder material.

Length — An extension ladder needs to be longer than either the highest point you need to reach or the highest support point (Illustrations, right). There are two reasons why.

First, the ladder sections have to overlap by several feet to keep the ladder rigid. Second, you shouldn’t stand above the fourth rung from the top of the ladder, which means your reach will be only slightly higher than the top of the ladder.

Duty Rating — Next, you’ll need to determine the duty rating you’ll require. This specifies how much total weight the ladder can handle. Thankfully, all ladders adhere to the same standard. And the color of fiberglass ladders corresponds with their duty ratings (Chart, right), making them easy to identify.

Material — If you compare ladders of equal length and duty rating, you&rsqup;ll find that aluminum ladders are usually less expensive. And aluminum is lighter, which makes the ladder easier to carry and set up. But aluminum ladders are conductive, so they shouldn’t be used near electrical wires. Fiberglass ladders cost more and weigh more, but are stiffer and have nonconductive rails, which makes them safer around electrical wires.

I actually own two ladders: an aluminum Type III for light chores and a fiberglass Type IA for big tasks. But if I owned just one, it would be a fiberglass Type I.

Have a nice weekend,

Wyatt Myers

Editor, Workbench

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (8 votes, average: 4.25 out of 5)
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