Workbench Weekly eTip
 

Archive for September, 2009

Safely Haul an Extension Ladder

Friday, September 25th, 2009

Most truck beds are too short to accommodate an extension ladder. But you can still haul one, even without a ladder rack, using this simple tip.

The trick is to rest the ladder on the cab and tailgate, rather than in the bed (Photo, below). In order for this setup to be safe, though, you need to take a few precautions. First, you’ll want to pad the top of the truck cab with a blanket or towel. Then, loop a rope around a rung of the ladder, and secure it to the front tie-down hooks. The rope doesn’t need to be taut at this point.

Now at the back, use two bungee cords to secure the ladder to the rear tie-downs, as shown in the illustration above-right. They’ll pull back against the front rope, tensioning it and locking the ladder in place so it can’t move.

Have a nice weekend,

Wyatt Myers

Editor, Workbench

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 3.40 out of 5)
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Scratches — Easy as 1, 2, 3

Friday, September 18th, 2009

Own a table or shelf long enough, and chances are good that eventually it will end up with a large scratch or two that expose the bare wood beneath the finish.

Scratch repair involves two steps: matching the color and then repairing the finish. For color matching, stain markers have a fine tip that’s perfect for filling in scratches (above). You may need to experiment by combining the stain from two or more markers before you find the right color match.

Step 1: Just like with regular stain, you’ll want to “over-apply” the stain from the marker. Then let it soak in for five to ten minutes, and dab off the excess with a clean cloth.

Step 2: When the stain dries, fill in the missing finish with a fine-tipped artist’s brush. Choose a sheen that’s consistent with the existing finish.

Step 3: To prevent the new “line” of finish from standing out, blend it with the surrounding finish after it dries. To do this, use water and 600-grit “wet and dry” sandpaper to lightly wet-sand the finish.

Have a nice weekend,

Wyatt Myers

Editor, Workbench

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5)
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Want Smooth-Painted MDF? Get Glue

Friday, September 11th, 2009

Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) is a great material for building projects. But it’s also porous, which means it’s tough to get a smooth painted surface.

To make it easier, you can create a sealer for MDF by mixing white glue and water in a 1:1 ratio in an old glue bottle (Photo, right). Then squeeze the mixture onto the MDF, and smooth it with a foam brush. After an hour, sand it lightly with 180-grit sandpaper, wipe off the dust, and apply a coat of paint. As you can see on the sample pieces below, sealed MDF ends up much smoother than unsealed.

Have a nice weekend,

Wyatt Myers

Editor, Workbench

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (20 votes, average: 4.60 out of 5)
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Fast Fixes for Problem Walls

Friday, September 4th, 2009

Wall cracks are like telemarketers – no matter how many times you try to get rid of them, they just keep coming back.

According to Dick Seitz of Valspar, that’s because people often don’t prepare the crack properly to be patched. If it’s a hairline crack, proper prep means widening it to about 1/4″ with a 5-in-1 tool, so it will accept spackle or joint compound (Fig. A).

After filling the crack (Fig. B), an added bit of insurance to keep it from coming back is to apply a rubberized coating such as Good-bye Cracks (Fig. C). This coating stretches and moves with the crack to prevent it from reemerging.

Another common wall problem is a “popped” nailhead (Fig. D). These can just be set with the other end of the 5-in-1 tool before filling the hole.

Have a nice weekend,

Wyatt Myers

Editor, Workbench

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (14 votes, average: 3.93 out of 5)
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