DIY home improvements

Filed Under: Do it yourself    by: ITC

Many people like the idea of DIY home improvements because they help trim the budget for many household maintenance jobs. If you like the idea of fixing items around the home without the need of a repairman you will first need to prepare your garage or toolbox since there are a few essentials that you will have to purchase from the DIY store if they are not in your possession. Read more…

Replacing Skirting & Architraves

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Home repair, Redecorating, Remodeling    by: ITC

Standard features of all houses, however plain. Although each performs a specific job, they also provide ornamentation and a chance to vary decoration.

As the years pass, they’re bound to come in for a few knocks – and will most likely be covered in several layers of paint, which not only get chipped but also eventually clog up their profiles. Skirting boards, in particular, are also prone to rot if walls or floors are damp. However, since wood trim is in no way part of the house’s structure, repairs and even replacement should create no major problems.

Slight dents and cracks can often be repaired with cellulose filler – or perhaps glass fibre repair paste for larger or more accident-prone areas. In most cases you’ll have difficulty blending in the filler by hand with an ordinary filling knife. Instead, you can use a template cut to the profile of the molding from plastic sheet (a large plastic ice-cream container is ideal), or hardboard or cardboard; run it along to smooth the surface after applying the filler.

If the damage is more serious, you may be able to saw and/or chisel out the bad part to leave clean edges, and glue and pin in a small piece or pieces of prepared molding, or else plain timber shaped to fit.

If patching and filling won’t work, you need a completely new piece. This, however, can be a snag if your existing molding is one of the scores of obsolete types, because you won’t be able to match it off the shelf.

You may occasionally be able to buy something suitable – on site where an old house is being demolished or renovated, or perhaps from a demolition contractor who stocks secondhand timber. Otherwise, many joinery firms will cut a molding specially if you take in a sample of the pattern; but that’s likely to prove very expensive.

Your next option is to substitute a readily available pattern of molding throughout the room. But that’s a pity – not to say a lot of trouble – if most of it is sound. A third possibility, probably the most attractive if you only need a small piece, is to make it yourself. You can mold the shape with a power router, or perhaps a plough plane, combination plane or scratch stock.

A scratch stock consists of a piece of steel (for example part of a hacksaw blade) ground and/or filed to the profile you want. It is then clamped with screws between two pieces of hardwood in an improvised stock, and scraped along the timber till the desired shape emerges.

Externally curved moldings, such as plain chamfered skirting and architrave, can of course usually be formed with an ordinary bench plane and glasspaper. Lastly, it’s sometimes possible to make the molding up in sections from smaller ones, glued together and filled where necessary.

Simple Boxing in

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Home repair, Plumbing, Remodeling    by: ITC

For many people a simple boxing-in of their existing pipes to keep them out of sight is all that they require. This is a straightforward task and the materials are easily available.

You’ll need softwood battens, usually 50x25mm (2×1 in), with a cladding of hardboard or 3mm plywood for the simplest job. Before you go ahead. however. you should check whether any hot water passes through the pipes to be hidden.

If this is the case and you’re using hardboard for your cladding, you’ll have to condition it first Of it will warp as the heat in the pipework dries it out. This is riot a difficult technique: all youl have to do is brush water onto the reverse (mesh) side and leave it flat for 48 hours in the room where it is to be fixed. The softwood battens should also be left lying flat in the room for a few days so that they. too. w adjust to the moisture content of the air.

If the wood has been conditioned, the two battens should be screwed to the wall on each side of the pipes and the cladding attached to the battens.

Fixing battens edge-on to the wall is not always the perfect answer but by doing so you’ll be able to cover adequately a few pipes that project up to 25mm (1 in) or so from the wall, and the cladding will, in any case, hold the battens steady.

Remember that you should never use glue to fix the cladding to the battens because you might need access to the pipes for repairs or modification at some stage in the future. Pins punched in at 150mm (6in) centres, with their heads covered with filler, should prove adequate; this way the cladding can be prised off if necessary.

Boxing in pipes running in a corner will require two 25mm (1 in) battens which have been chamfered at the front to provide an angled edge. These are screwed to the two walls and the cladding, also with chamfered edges, is then fixed to the battens. For larger pipes you’ll need just a single larger batten fixed to one of the smaller ones; the cladding will be pinned to this and the smaller batten.

Another method is to use a spring clip attached to a piece of 19mm (s/ain) thick timber. Its edges should be planed and chamfered to allow it to fit neatly into the corner, and the spring clip is then fixed to the pipe itself.

If the pipes are in the alcove of a chimney breast you can box them in and then finish off the boxing so that it looks like an extension of the existing wall (see Ready Reference). The boxing for horizontal pipes down near the floor can often be made to look like wide and deep skirting.

A 25mm (1 in) batten should be fixed to the floor itself and one should also run above, but parallel to, the pipe. To the upper batten an additional 50x25mm (2×1 in) batten should be fixed; the cladding is then attached to this and the batten on the floor.

Repairing a Cracked Panel

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Home repair, Remodeling    by: ITC

The panels in a paneled door are usually rebated into the stiles at each side. These panels are relatively thin and can easily crack and split, perhaps because of accidental damage or simply through old age.

A crack may have been filled in the past and covered up with layers of paint and it’s only when you strip the door that it becomes apparent. Stripping the door can also loosen the glue holding the panels in place so the panels become free to move and the split opens up even further. A crack of this sort is impossible to fill and if you plan to leave the door unpainted you would not want to see a line of filler anyway.

The only answer is to make a proper repair which forces the crack shut

External door frames can start to rot at the bottom and the rotten parts must be cut out and replaced. Probe into the timber to find out how far the rot extends, then cut out the affected portion plus a further 75mm (3in) of sound timber. You get a considerably neater finish if the new timber is scarf-jointed into the frame.

Remember to treat the ends and back of the new timber with preservative and then screw it in place into wall plugs. If the original frame was machined out of solid timber you will find it easier to make a matching section out of two separate pieces which are glued and nailed together.

If the doorstep is wooden the frame may be tanned into it, so you will have to saw through the tendon in order to remove the defective part. There is no need to try to tendon the new timber into the step.

Repairs to Stair Treads

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Home repair, Remodeling    by: ITC

Actual physical damage to stair treads is rare and will probably be limited purely to split or broken nosings. These can be repaired by cutting them off flush with the riser below, using a chisel, and pinning on a new molding.

A much more common problem, particularly in older houses, is creaking as a result of the treads becoming loose. The ease with which this can be fixed depends very much on whether you can get to the underside of the stairs or not. If you can, simply pin and glue 2 x 2in triangular blocks of wood between the treads and risers below, and drive screws up through the tread into the riser above. This is the only way you can fix a staircase with closed strings.

If the staircase has one or two cut strings, you can make the repair from above. First prise off the molding from below the tread nose and the molding holding the foot of the baluster in place, using an old chisel. Run a hacksaw blade along the gap between the back of the tread and upper riser. cutting through any fixings. Alternatively, cut through the riser itself with a backsaw. Drive a chisel blade between the tread nose and riser and lever it free. Then you can remove the risers if damaged.

If necessary. cut a new tread and riser from wood of the same size as the originals.

If one of the strings is closed, glue and pin supporting blocks to it for the ends of the riser and tread. Use offcuts of the tread and riser wood as positioning guides to ensure a tight fit. Then glue and pin the riser in place.

Pin and glue more blocks to the top of the lower riser and then glue the tread on top, strengthening the bond by driving screws or nails down through the ends into the cut string or strings. Do not drive any screws or nails through the leading edge of the tread as they may become exposed as the tread wears.

Refit the baluster, pinning it to the handrail and then pin the retaining molding to the end of the tread. Finally, refit the molding beneath the tread nose.

If you can reach the underside of a closed string staircase, you can replace treads or risers by removing their retaining wedges with a chisel and sliding the damaged parts out. Slot the new pieces in and fit new wedges. If a carriage runs down the centre of the stairs, however, the work is best left to a joiner or builder.

Home Repair Tips – Outdoor Furniture

Filed Under: DIY Outdoor, Do it yourself, Home repair, Outdoor    by: ITC

Outdoor furniture is usually made of metal or wood like redwood which resists rot. Common outdoor furniture repairs include:

• Refinishing wood or metal

• Repairing breaks

• Replacing canvas or webbing

Outdoor furniture needs a good protective finish. Use exterior paints or enamels. If the , metal has begun to rust, clean it thoroughly. Then prime the surface with an anti-rust primer. Use undercoating on wood surfaces.

Often a “sawbuck” chair or table will break where the legs cross. Join the pieces again with a splint glued on and reinforced with several screws. The new joint will probably be stronger than the original piece.

A director’s chair comes apart easily. While it’s apart sand and refinish it. Use the old canvas back and seat as a pattern for the new ones.

If the wood breaks on a patio chair or table, a good way to repair is to glue the piece together with a reinforcing splint over the break. Use screws to hold the splint in place.

Aluminum frame chairs can be recovered with webbing. Save the old grommets and screws. Be sure the chair is fully unfolded when rewebbing. Fold the end of the webbing over twice and puncture the end with an awl. Insert an old grommet to protect the webbing and attach it to the chair frame with a screw. Weave the webbing through to the opposite side and attach it in the same way.

Some chairs have frames wound with plastic tubing. This plastic is very durable. Cord and canvas chairs are easy to repair.

A director’s chair comes apart easily for repair. Refinish the wood parts. Cut new canvas patterned on the old pieces.

Plastic tubing or cord wrapped around an aluminum frame makes a durable, weatherproof chair.

On a webbed chair, fold over the end of each strap twice and insert a grommet before attaching the webbing to the frame with a screw. This will reinforce the hole and keep the webbing from pulling out the first time you sit down.

With cord and canvas chairs, all you have to remember is to knot the end of the cord.

Basic Woodworking Terms

Filed Under: Crafts, Do it yourself, Hardware    by: ITC

Before you can start a woodworking project, you need to be able to talk the talk. That means you need to understand the basic terms of woodworking. If you do not know a mortise from a tenon, then you will be lost on most projects. The following definitions should get you familiar with the types of joints and other terms used in the woodworking art and allow you to speak to others in a common language.

First, let’s start with some basic woodworking definitions. They are in alphabetical order for convenience in searching through them at a later date.

Bevel – A bevel is an angled cut through a piece of wood. Instead of having a square corner, a beveled cut softens the appearance for a more decorative look to elements in a piece of furniture. Bevels are measured and marked using a bevel gauge.

Butt joint – A butt joint is an easy but somewhat weak technique for joining two boards together usually at a right (90 degree) angle. These joints are made simply by gluing and pressing the two flat surfaces together. For increased strength, the joint is usually held together with screws and glue.

Chamfer – A chamfer is the removal of the sharp corner of a section of wood which produces a smooth, beveled edge. This is done to keep the edges from being dangerous.

Dovetail joint – A high quality technique for joining two boards using alternating slots (or tails) and protrusions (or pins). The ends of the joining pieces resemble the v-shaped outline of a bird’s tail. These pieces are snugly fitted together thus increasing the gluing area of the joint. A well made dovetail produces a joint that, even without glue, can be difficult to separate. This is regarded in woodworking as one of the strongest and most reliable forms of wood joinery.

Grain – Grain is the appearance of the annual growth rings of a tree. It is the result of the way the tree was cut.

Miter – The woodworking joint created when two boards are cut at an angle to one another. The most common miter joint is the 45-degree miter such as the cuts used to build square or rectangular picture frames. A miter gauge may be used to assist in making miter cuts at the table saw. A miter jig is extremely useful for most woodworking projects.

Mortise and tenon joint — A joint where the male end, or tenon, of one board fits into the matching opening, or mortise, of another board. This is a common, reliable and fairly strong form of wood joint.

Rabbet – This is a rectangular, stepped recess cut along the edge of a board. Typically a rabbet is cut along the back or inner edges of the four wooden pieces making up a square or rectangular object.

Spline – A thin piece of wood that fits in the mating grooves cut into two pieces of wood usually at right angles to each other. Typically the corners of quality picture frames are reinforced with decorative spline joints.