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DIY Advice Blog

Get the latest information on new tools, trends and ideas for your DIY projects from The Family Handyman experts.

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  • Running PEX water supply lines

    • 4
    I recently replumbed a house with PEX. The house was sitting on a crawl space with nothing but gravel for a floor. Simply resting the PEX on the ground didn't seem like a good idea, but I was a bit...
  • Removing Screws With Stripped Heads

    • 0
    You did it...you stripped out the Phillips screw that holds your taillight on, and now you're kinda screwed. Here's a simple solution: Grab your favorite rotary tool and turn that Phillips head...
  • Kitchen Ideas: The proper care and feeding of your garbage disposer

    • 4
    I came home from work the other day, and there was a plumber's truck out in front of my neighbor's house. Turns out her garbage disposer had once again been the victim of poor decision-making....
  • The Family Handyman: Dec./Jan. is on sale now!

    • 2
    If you love a good mystery, you're going to want to build the beautiful bookcase of secrets in our latest issue. It's got high style, tons of space for all your books—and 10 clever hidden...
  • Repair a portable gas heater with a new thermocouple

    • 0
    Portable gas heaters have something in common with gas water heaters. They both depend on a thermocouple. When the thermocouple reaches a certain temperature, it signals the valve to open and let the gas...
  • Using MDF as cheap finished flooring

    • 0
    Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) has a ton of useful applications, but as a finished flooring material? About five years ago, we needed a cheap "temporary" finished flooring solution in our upstairs...
  • Automotive fixes: Stop repeat failures on radiator fan relays

    • 1
    Electric radiator cooling fans use a lot of juice. So carmakers use a fan relay to switch them on and off. If your radiator fan doesn't work, don't automatically assume you've got a bum fan...
  • Top iPhone/iPad Home Improvement Apps for DIYers

    • 8
    I'm one of those guys looking for any excuse to buy the latest tools and gadgets to make my workshop complete. Thanks to the computing power of smartphones and tablets, I always carry along a bunch...
  • Laundry room plumbing: A recessed PVC floor drain

    • 3
    The building code in my area calls for a floor drain in the laundry room. But the laundry room in my house is on a standard wooden floor above the crawl space, not on concrete. So here's the problem...
  • Kitchen and bathroom ideas: Delta Touch2O Faucet is the almost perfect faucet

    • 1
    Why can't something just be totally perfect? Must there always be a catch? These are the questions I've been asking myself in the days and weeks since I replaced my kitchen faucet with a new Touch2O...
  • The perfect clamps for installing kitchen cabinets

    • 1
    I've owned this pair of giant locking Vise-Grip clamps for more than 25 years, and I can't tell you how useful it is when it comes to installing kitchen cabinets . (The real name is Vise-Grip 18...
  • The Paslode cordless finish nailer: Compressor free!

    • 2
    I admit to having mixed feelings when it came time to hang trim in my house. On one hand, it meant the rooms were almost finished. But it also meant weeks of lugging an air compressor around behind me...
  • Bathroom ideas: The power of the shower

    • 5
    I've done a lot of remodeling, and I'm pretty sure I'm about to share the absolute fastest and easiest home improvement project I've ever completed. The difference is amazing. On a recent...
  • The Family Handyman: The Tool Issue is on sale now!

    • 2
    Our annual Tool Issue is on sale now. It’s got 13 feature stories, tons of tool reviews and techniques and of course, lots of great DIY projects. We’ve added new departments, too: Pro Tips...
  • My favorite drill: The Makita 18v Li-ion Cordless Driver

    • 1
    I should start with full disclosure: I willingly chose to live in my garage for a year while building a house in my spare time, so I'm not at the top of the "Most Sane People Ever" list....
  • Bobcat 3400 4x4 utility vehicle is 1,400 lbs. of fun

    • 0
    Know what a utility vehicle is? Well, it's like a mini 4x4 pickup truck that can go just about anywhere. Bobcat loaned me one of its 3400 series for a couple of weeks, and man, I got so hooked I didn’t...
  • Tool Storage Tip: Band Saw Blades

    • 3
    Craving some clever tool storage ideas ? Check out this one! Band saw blade hangers If you’ve ever suffered the indignity—and possible danger to eyes and face—of a band saw blade uncoiling...
  • Install a headlight bulb

    • 1
    Recently a friend asked why his headlight bulbs burned out so often. He replaces the bulbs himself and each time the bulb burned out, he noticed that the glass had shattered as well. The glass surrounding...
  • How to remove rust from a table saw

    • 1
    It’s guaranteed. One of my pals comes over to my shop and I offer him a brew. I turn my back and before I know it, there’s an ice-cold beer sitting on my cast iron table saw, sweating condensation...
  • How to get rid of mice

    • 4
    We never have mice in our house in the summer. Apparently the detached garage and stone patio wall are good enough for them during warm weather. But once the temperature dips into the low 60s at night...
  • Kitchen ideas: How to clean a stinky garbage disposer

    • 0
    I walked into the kitchen yesterday and a really bad smell was lurking over near the sink. That ever happen to you? One day everything’s fine and then suddenly…it’s truly not. The source...
  • How to install doors faster

    • 2
    I’ve been a contractor for 10 years and have installed lots of doors the traditional way. But I recently discovered this little gem: The Quick Door Hanger is a simple bracket that you screw to the...
  • Drywall: Which tape is best?

    • 1
    Most drywall pros will tell you that paper tape is the only way to go. I disagree. Paper is great for skilled tapers. But for the rest of us, adhesive-backed mesh is easier. You don’t have to tool...
  • The Family Handyman: October is on sale now!

    • 0
    Bathroom remodeling issue is on sale at your favorite magazine retailer now! In our October 2011 issue, which hits the newsstands today, we’ll show you how to redo your bathrooms without the hassle...
  • DIY solar power projects

    • 1
    In researching my article about solar power for the October issue of the magazine, I’ve been running into some really interesting websites chock-full of everything you could possibly want to know...
  • Drywall finishing with setting-type joint compound

    • 2
    When finishing drywall, most DIYers stick with the ready-to-use stuff sold in buckets and shy away from the powdered stuff sold in bags. That’s often a smart choice. “Setting” compound...
  • Sharpen a chain saw blade in two minutes with the Oregon PowerSharp

    • 1
    I hate sharpening chain saws. It takes forever and interrupts your woodcutting, and I’m never quite happy with the results. There are all kinds of gimmicks you can buy to make the job easier, but...
  • How to drywall: A finishing shortcut

    • 3
    Most home improvement shortcuts lead to trouble. But here’s one that makes drywall finishing faster without regrets later: In closets and other low-priority areas, don’t tape and mud inside...
  • Laundry room storage ideas: A home for hangers

    • 2
    When I remodeled my laundry room, my motto was “a home for everything.” I installed cabinets and shelves and drawers and pegboard… But the nicest little storage feature is this towel...
  • Add a whole-house surge protector

    • 2
    A couple of weeks ago, we had a thunderstorm at our house with lots of lightning. The next morning, our two-year old washing machine went on the fritz. The repairman told us both circuit boards were fried...
  • Kitchen ideas: Quick & simple knife block

    • 1
    Looking for kitchen ideas ? Here’s the world’s fastest, easiest, cheapest knife rack. If you have a table saw and some wood scraps, you can build one of these knife racks in less than an hour...
  • Keep rodents and pests out of your garden containers

    • 1
    I potted up some lovely containers this summer filled with ornamental grasses, tomatoes, herbs and a variety of flowers. They’re absolutely gorgeous. Unfortunately, the squirrels in my neighborhood...
  • The Family Handyman: The Garage Issue is on sale now!

    • 3
    In a perfect world, every garage would be big, bright and well powered, exceptionally organized and preferably heated and air conditioned so you could enjoy the space all year long. Most of us have to...
  • Prevent peeling paint with water repellent preservative

    • 3
    How do you prevent peeling paint? Water repellent preservative is the best-kept secret in the world of painting. Decades of university and government studies have shown that WRP adds years to the life...
  • Rain barrel diverters protect your foundation from overflows

    • 2
    About three years ago, I built myself a rain barrel from a 55-gallon plastic pickle container. I set it up on concrete blocks about 2 ft. off the ground and placed it directly underneath a sawed-off downspout...
  • Hearing protection: Ear buds for DIY

    • 0
    Hearing protection plus audio isn’t a new idea. I’ve owned several earmuffs that deliver sound through built-in speakers. All of them worked as advertised, but all were bulky, heavy and uncomfortable—especially...
  • Antifreeze flushing tip

    • 1
    Engine coolant (antifreeze) comes in many varieties (green, yellow, orange) and concentrations (premixed and concentrate). Using the right kind of coolant is critical to the longevity of your engine and...
  • Kitchen Ideas: Faux granite countertops that are surprisingly easy and inexpensive

    • 0
    For the June '11 issue of The Family Handyman magazine, we transformed a blah, boring kitchen into something really special with four simple and inexpensive projects. One of these projects was to cover...
  • “Green” your lawn with drought-tolerant turf

    • 1
    Here are a couple of eye-opening factoids: — U.S. homeowners spend more to maintain their lawns than the average farmer spends on each acre of crops. — For the average home, 50 to 70 percent...
  • A better spigot

    • 1
    This is the outdoor spigot on my house. It’s butt-ugly, it’s not frost-proof and I had to assemble it myself. But it has advantages that more than make up for those faults: 1. No drips. Built...
  • Concrete sealer: Protect your driveway

    • 5
    The cause of "spalling" or "scaling" concrete is simple. Concrete is porous and soaks up a lot of water. When that water freezes, it expands and breaks up the concrete surface. Prevention...
  • Pergolas: How to Build a Pergola

    • 0
    There must be just a little bit of Italian romantic in most of us—even me, a no-nonsense German! What else could explain our love for pergolas? OK, some people call them arbors or gazebos, and the...
  • Getting the kinks out: Finding a garden hose that actually works

    • 7
    I'm on a quest for the perfect garden hose. Actually, it doesn’t even have to be perfect, just durable, reasonably priced and not weigh a ton. For years, I used a hose that I inherited from my...
  • Kitchen ideas: A better sink drain

    • 3
    Ninety-nine percent of drain lines under sinks are bound to leak sooner or later. That’s because the parts are made from thin plastic and joined with “slip” joints that slip together...
  • Bullet-proof exterior house paint

    • 0
    If you live in extreme weather conditions (and more of us seem to every day), you need a bullet-proof exterior house paint that can stand up to Mother Nature’s fury. I’m talking about paint...
  • DIY Car Care: Summertime Thermostat Advice

    • 0
    My DIY friends sometimes ask me if they should install a “summer” thermostat in their vehicle (or remove the thermostat altogether) to help it run cooler in hot weather. My answer is always...
  • Supporting a roof or floor during demolition

    • 0
    I wanted to replace the 2x3 bearing wall going down the middle of the house with a 2x4 wall. The weightier wall was necessary for changing door locations and sizes. And it would make it easier to install...
  • Work Sharp Knife and Tool Sharpener video review

    • 1
    Do it yourself knife sharpening My dad kept a sharpening stone in the kitchen drawer and taught me early on how to sharpen knifes. But sharpening with a stone is slow and requires patience and practice...
  • Painting techniques: Safer paint removers

    • 3
    Stripping paint The worst job I’ve ever had was stripping all the woodwork in an old mansion. Rotten work, but it made me a connoisseur of paint removers. I tried every product I could find and found...
  • The Family Handyman: July/August is on sale now!

    • 1
    Whoever wrote, "Summertime and the livin' is easy" must have been living in a simpler time. Most people I know are up to their eyeballs with summer obligations: games and recitals and end...
  • Solar power: Is it right for you?

    • 0
    I’m working on an article for the magazine about solar power, and I ran across this great Web site: findsolar.com . By using its solar calculators, you can find out whether installing photovoltaic...
  • Why you can’t reuse some automotive fasteners

    • 0
    My last repair job involved removing the drive axle from the steering knuckle. The shop manual warns not to reuse the axle nut, so I trotted off to the parts store for a new one. The parts store guy said...
  • Garage door openers: How to choose a new one

    • 3
    We play a little game here at The Family Handyman office called “What broke at your house this weekend?” This time it was my 15-year-old chain drive garage door opener. The signs of its impending...
  • Free paint primer

    • 0
    My buddy Gary is a professional painter, and he graciously volunteered to paint the inside of my newly drywalled house. He had 20 gallons of leftover paint from many different houses he’d painted...
  • Cover cracks with wall liner

    • 1
    Home improvement shortcuts usually lead to trouble. But not always. Fifteen years ago, I tore out most of my crumbling plaster walls and replaced them with drywall. By the time I got to the dining room...
  • Garage flooring: Resurfacing and repair tips

    • 5
    Yes, that really is my garage floor pictured to the right. It’s a detached garage—one of those that looks like a little cottage in the back of a small city lot. At one time it was a poured...
  • The Family Handyman: June is on sale now!

    • 3
    Do you ever suspect that the editors here at The Family Handyman magazine know exactly what needs to be done at your house? Just when you think, "I wonder how you go about fixing that ," we arrive...
  • Drywall taping: Ultraflex is a great problem solver

    • 1
    When I was still working as a remodeling contractor, we did a lot of attic remodels, and they always had tons of odd angles at inside and outside corners that made applying drywall corner bead and tape...
  • House painting: My favorite wood filler

    • 1
    MH Ready Patch wood filler has been around for a long time, and for good reason. Its creamy consistency is perfect for leveling out shallow imperfections. I use it to fill plywood edges before painting...
  • When a car thermostat fails

    • 0
    Your car’s thermostat is a really simple device. But if it fails, your engine can overheat and self-destruct. Here’s how thermostats work and how they fail. The manufacturers inject a mixture...
  • Suspended ceiling panels: Cheap, easy and elegant

    • 1
    Let’s say you have an ugly ceiling or you’ve had some roof leaks (that you’ve fixed, right?) but you’ve got some stains left behind. Or maybe, you just want to soften a room that...
  • My favorite straightedge

    • 2
    As a remodeling contractor, I was always interested in the specialty tools that other contractors used. On one job site, I was watching my tile contractor screed a mud bed for floor tile. He was using...
  • Can’t glue wet wood

    • 4
    I wanted to build some curved, laminated treated posts for my arbor. So I went to the lumberyard to buy 1x6s for the project. The only ones they had were still pretty wet from the treatment process, but...
  • Ingenious tool storage tip: Rotary bit organizer

    • 3
    I’m not implying that everyone’s shop is a mess. I’m just saying that everyone can appreciate a creative tip for storing their tools. Check out this one: Rotary bit organizer If you have...
  • The Family Handyman: May is on sale now!

    • 1
    Here's what's coming in the May issue of The Family Handyman , on sale at newsstands today. In "America's Top Handymen," five experts share their plumbing, painting and deck-building...
  • Grout sealers stop mineral stains (maybe)

    • 1
    “Cleanliness is next to godliness!” Seems like questionable theology to me. But my aunt believes it, so the white, powdery stuff on her floor grout was driving her crazy. She kept scrubbing...
  • Planing rough-sawn lumber with a jointer and planer

    • 0
    If you want to move on to the big leagues of woodworking, you absolutely have to learn how to flatten rough-sawn wood. That’s because the shrink-wrapped 3/4-in.-thick wood you buy at the home center...
  • Interior painting: Paint trim faster with this simple drying rack

    • 0
    During a recent rec room project, my wife and I used a spare bedroom in our home as our paint shop for trim. After a short amount of painting, we had trouble finding a place to put each piece of trim to...
  • CV Joint Smarts

    • 0
    Car makers use highly flexible constant velocity (CV) joints on front wheel drive (FWD) vehicles. The joints transfer torque to the front wheels and provide and allow for a much tighter turn radius than...
  • Woodworking Tip: Clamp Without Clamps

    • 3
    Years ago, I was helping a grouchy old cabinetmaker build some small wooden boxes. “These mitered corners are gonna be a nightmare to clamp up,” I said. “No problem,” he muttered...
  • Upgrade your wiper blades

    • 4
    Most car owners think wiper blades last several years. They don’t. In fact, in a rainy or snowy climate, they barely last a full year before they start to streak. And once they streak, they’re...
  • Decorating idea: Don’t reupholster it, paint it!

    • 0
    Ever notice how one home improvement project leads to another and another? Paint the bedroom and suddenly the carpet looks worn. Replace a light fixture and whoa, where did those cracks in the ceiling...
  • Revive a wet cell phone

    • 2
    The Family Handyman reader Scott Martinez can attest to using rice to save an electronic gadget. (This Handy Hint, from our March 2011 issue, p. 33, is also shown below.) Twice now his wife has completely...
  • Perforated steel stairway to heaven

    • 0
    Get ready for some bragging. A few years ago, we installed a perforated steel exterior staircase (treads and risers). Perforated steel is widely used in industrial applications (think fire escapes), and...
  • Miter saw table from recycled bifold doors

    • 0
    Here's how to make a quick miter saw stand using old hollow-core bifold doors. You can usually find old bifold doors free from someone you know who’s remodeling or along the street if you have...
  • PVC pipe vs. ABS pipe: How do you choose?

    • 4
    Ask a bunch of plumbers which is better and you probably won’t get an answer, just an argument. Some say PVC is best for long-term, leak-free drain lines because it’s stronger. Others say ABS...
  • Copper spark plugs: debunking the myth

    • 0
    I read a lot of online auto blogs and continually see folklore “wisdom” that copper spark plugs are a better choice than either platinum or iridium. Rubbish! The myth is based on the fact that...
  • Saving money on Dumpsters for rubbish and trash removal

    • 1
    My son ordered a trash container online for a large demo project we were working on. I stayed out of it—until he told me how much he paid: $512 for a 20-yd. container. It seemed like way too much...
  • Makita’s mini circular saw

    • 0
    As my age rises, so does my affection for smaller, lighter tools. And here’s my latest love: Makita’s 5005BA 5-1/2-in. circular saw. Weighing in at 7 lbs., it’s a few pounds lighter than...
  • Taillights and trailer lights

    • 2
    How many times have you had to stop and futz with trailer lights before you could pull the boat to the lake or run to the home center to pick up a load? UGH!! Here’s what I finally learned. If you...
  • Protect your deck from joist rot

    • 1
    Last summer, I helped a carpenter buddy tear out a rotten deck. The joists were pressure-treated lumber, so I was surprised at how badly decayed they were. But my friend wasn’t. He sees it all the...
  • Wild about good work gloves

    • 0
    “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” Mark Twain I love that quote, but I’m going to change it slightly by inserting the word “gloves.”...
  • Warped hardwood floor repair

    • 0
    My brother-in-law finished building a log home last year and had a beautiful hickory hardwood floor installed throughout the house. We went to visit him this last summer, which was a particularly hot and...
  • Wood repair: What's so great about epoxy?

    • 2
    A few of us were talking about wood repair the other day, and I commented on how great two-part epoxy fillers are. I’ve used the Wood Restoration Kit from Abatron brand, but others are available...
  • Better plumbing: Easy, no-leak connections

    • 1
    Years ago, I spent a few months working for a plumber who spat out pearls of plumbing wisdom like a Pez dispenser. Here's one of his best maxims: "Always dope everything." Translation: Use...
  • Choosing paint colors: It’s not rocket science—it just feels that way

    • 1
    I am a creative, competent adult (much of the time). So why does choosing a paint color make me feel like such a moron? I dread going to a home center or paint store "to get some ideas." The...
  • Shocking Electrical Story

    • 2
    I nearly got electrocuted last weekend. I wanted to tear out the old A/C compressor outside, so I went into the main panel at the house and shut off the main breaker . Grabbed my side cutters and headed...
  • Simple Workbench in a Day

    • 0
    Looking for a cheap and easy workbench plan? You can find a lot of plans online, but most are for serious woodworkers who don't mind spending hundreds of dollars and several days building a workbench...
  • Bostitch StrapShot: Hang Joists Faster

    • 0
    My first construction job was nailing joist hangers. I'm not kidding; that's all I did for the first month. It was slow, boring agony and I still suffer from joist hanger phobia. So I wondered...
  • Splice Wires Easily with this Connector

    • 23
    It drives me crazy when I go to replace an outlet or switch and the wires are too short. I've run into wires so short I could barely pull the outlet far enough from the box to loosen the terminal screws...
  • Bathroom Lighting: Keeping it Simple

    • 1
    Here's a joke: Q. What's the difference between God and an architect? A. God knows he's not an architect. (I'm married to an architect, and architects love that joke.) I bring this up because...
  • Unclog Drains with the Cobra Zip-It Drain Cleaning Tool

    • 2
    If you've ever pulled a 2-lb., rodent-like glob of hair (mixed with an odorous combination of toothpaste, nail clippings and nameless slime) from your drain, you've experience the same gaggy feeling...
  • Customize your Flat Screen TV Mount

    • 1
    One of the first things you see when you come in the front door at our house is the side of the flat screen TV. We wanted to hide the wires and mounting hardware so that the TV would be less conspicuous...
  • The Dremel Multi-Max Oscillating Tool: Fast Grout Removal and Much More

    • 2
    Here at The Family Handyman , the only power tool I use is a Mac computer. The real editors fire up their tools, build the projects, generate the dust and write their stories. As the copy editor, I fire...
  • The Hi-Lift Jack: One of My Favorite Problem-Solvers

    • 1
    When I was about 10, I watched our local handyman,Walt, cut down a tree. When it was lying on the ground, he used what looked like a bumper jack on steroids to lift up the monstrous trunk to unbind a stuck...
  • Sneak Peek: Ingenious Garage Storage Ideas

    • 5
    OK, raise your hand if you "store" things on your garage floor or on shelves that are already too full of other stuff. Let's all put our hands down now. I stood in my garage the other day...
  • Dumpster Smarts: Getting Rid of Demolition Trash

    • 4
    I'm in the middle of completely gutting and rehabbing a house. So far, the debris has required two 20-yard trash containers to the tune of $800. When you're talking about trash containers, space...
  • Garage Storage: How Much Weight Can Trusses Take?

    • 2
    This is the time of year when I bring outdoor stuff indoors and garage storage space gets scarce. My favorite storage solution is to shove more and more stuff "up in the rafters." And that got...
  • Upgrade your Bathroom Fan: Stop Mold, Wood Rot and More

    • 0
    Now's the time to think about upgrading to a quiet bathroom fan. A bathroom fan is your first line of defense against excess winter humidity, which causes a range of problems, from condensation on...
  • Impact Drivers Make Great Drills

    • 3
    Along with a crew of tool testers, I'm working on an article about cordless impact drivers. Before the hands-on testing, most of us figured that impact drivers were great for driving screws, but second...
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