Workbench Weekly eTip
 

Archive for July, 2011

DIY Math Made Easy

Friday, July 29th, 2011

If you ever need to lay out a deck or another outdoor project, there’s an easy way to make sure it’s square using string and a tape measure. The technique is called the 3-4-5 method of measuring, and it’s an easy way to make sure you accurately position deck posts so that the deck will be square and the joists will be perpendicular to the house wall.

The 3-4-5 method is really just a simple way to form a right triangle using basic math and the Pythagorean theorem. You just need a tape measure, some mason’s line, and a few stakes. The Illustration below shows how it works for locating your deck posts.

The 3-4-5 method

When laying out deck posts, you need to establish layout lines that are perpendicular to the wall of your house. The easiest way to do that is to measure and lay out a simple right triangle. Then use stakes and string to mark where the posts will go.

Of course, your deck will probably be more than 4-ft. deep, but you can easily double (6-8-10) or triple (9-12-15) the distances, or use fractions of the formula for a more accurate measurement at a further distance from the house wall.

Have a nice weekend,

Wyatt Myers
Online Editor, Workbench

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Choosing the Right Kitchen Cabinets

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

If you’ve even thought about remodeling your kitchen, you know that cabinets can take a big bite out of your budget. And with so many finishes, materials, sizes, and accessory options to choose from, it’s no wonder that such a huge project often gets shelved. When chosen correctly, however, cabinets will last for years and drastically improve kitchen storage space.

Kitchen Cabinets

Before you order, you’ll need a game plan for your kitchen design. If you’re not sure where to start, you may want to consider working with a professional or visiting a home center for ideas. Keep in mind that if you work within the kitchen’s existing footprint, you’ll be able to keep costs down.

Cabinet Customization

You also need to consider what level of cabinet customization is right for your kitchen. Custom, semi-custom, and stock cabinets give you a variety of choices at a wide range of price points. See the Table for a comparison of these cabinet types.

Once you decide what type of cabinet you want, you should take a closer look at how you actually use them. Then, determine how to make your budget work for those priorities.

Next, ask to look at the available stains, finishes, effects, and glazes. Think about the style of the rest of your home. What elements do you love? That will give you a better idea about what you want from your cabinets’ appearance. In the end, your choices should come down to what works for your space — and your wallet.

Have a nice weekend,

Wyatt Myers
Online Editor, Workbench

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (4 votes, average: 4.50 out of 5)
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Save the Date

Friday, July 15th, 2011

To prevent an always aggravating beeping smoke alarm, you can simply write the date on a piece of masking tape and put it on the battery. That way, you’ll know how old the battery is the next time you check it.

smoke alarm

Have a nice weekend,

Wyatt Myers
Online Editor, Workbench

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (2 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
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Simple Miter Saw Small Piece Holder

Friday, July 8th, 2011

Most miter saws have a hold-down assembly that can keep your workpieces in place as you cut. But the hold-downs rarely work with pieces less than a few inches long.

To hold small pieces, attach the workpiece to a “sled” made of ¼"-thick hardboard or plywood. You can make this from any scrap piece that’s wide enough so the blade can’t cut all the way across.

To use it, just adhere the workpiece to the sled using double-faced carpet tape, making sure the workpiece is aligned exactly with the edge of the sled. Then lay the sled on your saw table, and cut. The tape will hold the short cutoff in place, so you can easily retrieve it after you shut off the saw.

hold small pieces

Small pieces can get turned into projectiles by a spinning miter saw blade. You can keep them in place so they don’t get lost or ruined by simply sticking them to a wide piece of hardboard with double-faced tape.

Have a nice weekend,

Wyatt Myers
Online Editor, Workbench

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (7 votes, average: 4.57 out of 5)
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Step up to a New Threshold

Friday, July 1st, 2011

The threshold takes a lot of abuse from water, weather, and foot traffic. But it can be replaced easily without replacing the rest of the frame.

First you need to find the right replacement. Home centers stock a bunch of them. Measure your old one, and take a sketch or photo of it with you to help in selecting the right replacement (Photo).

New Threshold

You can buy a replacement for almost any style of door threshold. Just be sure to match the profile and height of the old one for a good fit.

Once you have the replacement, remove the old threshold (Illustration). To do that, use a hand saw or reciprocating saw to cut it into a few sections, and then use a hammer or pry bar to pry it out.

Threshold Installation

In most cases, the side jambs probably sit on top of the threshold, so they may get torn up a bit when you do this, but that’s okay. You’ll need to cut out the lower portions anyway, and then make and fit in extensions that go to the floor.

Now cut the new threshold to length, so it fits between the jambs. Caulk under the threshold, and secure it according to the instructions.

Have a nice weekend,

Wyatt Myers
Online Editor, Workbench

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (7 votes, average: 4.57 out of 5)
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