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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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  • Splice Wires Easily with this Connector

    • 22
    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...
  • I love my power inverter

    • 8
    I was in Fargo, ND, last weekend for my son’s hockey tournament. We had a four-hour ride back home on Sunday afternoon, so my wife drove and I used the time to get some work done (my boss has been...
  • Contain Dust During Remodels

    • 7
    It doesn’t take a lot of demo work or sanding joint compound to cover a room—or several rooms—with a layer of dust. One of the best, fastest ways to contain the dust is to hang plastic...
  • 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...
  • My Workshop Space Saver

    • 7
    For years I used a store-bought miter saw stand in my workshop. It was light and easy to fold up—great for hauling around in the back of my pickup truck. These days, though, my saw doesn't leave...
  • How to Save Money: Replace Brake Rotors

    • 6
    A couple weeks ago, I drove my wife's car for the first time in a while. When I applied the brakes from high speeds, the steering wheel shook a lot. I knew it was time to replace the rotors. She has...
  • 10 Tips for Dealing With Water Damage, Mold and Mildew

    • 6
    A flooded basement, moldy drywall and mildewed grout are no fun to deal with. Here are tips to help you prevent water damage and mold growth from happening in the first place, and tips for handling these...
  • Cool New Lawn Mowers

    • 6
    I’ve been lucky enough to test-drive some new lawn mowers this year, and I like what I’ve found—high-tech features, easy operation and nice, even cuts. Whether you’re on a tight...
  • High Marks for the Multi-Max Oscillating Tool

    • 6
    I’ve used a Fein oscillating tool for years in my contracting business. It’s helped me cut, shape and remove drywall, wood trim and grout, and it’s been indispensable for a bunch of small...
  • “Must Have” Portable Table Saw

    • 5
    Having a fancy cabinet saw is great, but what do you do when you need to go on location? Well, for me the answer is the Ryobi BTS21—a 10-in. table saw with a portable stand. I shopped around, looked...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Installed a Sink Last Weekend

    • 4
    Our house is 10 years old, which seems to be the magic age when things start to break or need attention. The latest thing to go was our garbage disposer. A hole had rusted through the side, and when we...
  • 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...
  • My New Favorite Vacuum

    • 4
    My wife and I have two *** boys, which means our house is never clean—or at least never stays clean for long. We wore out our Dustbuster cleaning up after them. But truth be told, I wasn’t...
  • Robot Gutter Cleaner

    • 4
    At first sight the Looj from iRobot seems like a toy, but don't let first impressions fool you. This little bulldog will save you hours of unpleasant work. The Looj has a well-thought-out design and...
  • Power Tool Gawker's Guide to the Galaxy

    • 4
    Some guys look forward to the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, but I get my thrills paging through the Grizzly Industrial catalog--glossy photos of gorgeous woodworking machines (some with cover plates...
  • High-Tech Work Gloves

    • 4
    I love my high-tech work gloves and here's why. They're tough like leather gloves and fit tight like surgeons' gloves. That means your fingers stay nimble enough to handle nails and screws...
  • 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...
  • Sneak Peek: Ingenious Garage Storage Ideas

    • 4
    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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Sheds: Easy Sliding Doors

    • 4
    For several years now, I've been in charge of designing and building our annual shed. The photo here gives you a sneak preview of the shed that will appear in our July/Aug. '12 issue. One of the...
  • Drip Irrigation for Vegetables

    • 4
    The setup is easy to install and costs less than $50. This raised-bed vegetable garden is watered automatically every three days by a drip watering system. Emitters installed every 12 in. or so provide...
  • Hurricane Sandy Aftermath Tips

    • 4
    The period after the hurricane is as dangerous as the storm itself. High winds and storm surges cause a lot of property damage during a hurricane. But more people die in the aftermath of a hurricane than...
  • How to Plan for Kitchen Cabinets

    • 4
    Last year, my son and I bought a 25-year-old, rundown foreclosed house, really cheap. Part of the remodel (a.k.a., a complete rebuild) was of course replacing the kitchen. There really wasn't much...
  • DIY Safety Tips

    • 4
    Being a DIYer isn't especially dangerous, but there are risks when you're using tools and ladders. Every year, emergency rooms report hundreds of thousands of visits for injuries caused by power...
  • How to Buy the Perfect Home—for a DIYer

    • 3
    Sponsored by Realtor.com It's home-buying season, and whether you're buying your first or your third home, it's an exciting (and sometimes terrifying) undertaking. The good news is that DIYers...
  • Slanted Bookshelves

    • 3
    My wife and I enjoy reading, and we seem to acquire a lot of books. A couple of years ago, we ran out of bookshelf space, and since then, piles of books started forming around the house. Before someone...
  • High-Definition TV Wiring

    • 3
    Several years ago, I made the leap to Hi-Def TV. Got the HD satellite box and TV, surround sound—the whole bit. I have to say I was disappointed. The picture wasn't nearly as good as I remembered...
  • 5 Favorite Easy DIY Projects

    • 3
    Many DIY projects are not ones you would choose. Your house chooses them for you: the clogged toilet, the broken dryer, the lawn that needs to be rescued, etc. But there are also the projects you do because...
  • What The Avengers Can Teach Us About Home Remodeling

    • 3
    Photo courtesy of Marvel. Marvel's The Avengers had a record-setting opening weekend of $200.3 million dollars. A lot of us saw the movie, but if you didn't, don't worry, there are no spoilers...
  • How to Clean Your Air Conditioner

    • 3
    As my buddy walked up the driveway, he noticed my condenser (the exterior unit of my central AC system), which was caked with dirt, grass and even a few dead insects. He gave me a look that said, "You're...
  • Frugal Living: Make Your Vacuum Last

    • 3
    A vacuum repairman once told me that he was going to name his new boat "The Bagless" in honor of the vacuums that paid for it. Bagless models don't end up in his shop because they're...
  • Tools That Make Yard Work Easy: The Big Backpack Blower

    • 3
    I live smack dab in the middle of an oak forest. Believe me, I know all about leaves in the fall —I'm talking 2-ft.-deep drifts over a half acre of driveway and yard. At first I had one of those...
  • Three Simple Household Repairs That'll Save You Hundreds

    • 3
    In the past year, I've done three appliance repairs that I'm sure would have cost me three or four hundred dollars if I would have called a repair service. All of these are common problems that...
  • Better Windows, Better Value

    • 3
    I've been replacing windows this summer, and pondering change. I've cut out 2x4s in the old walls that aren't much different from what you'd find in any home center today. But the windows—wow...
  • Dickies Multi-Use Pocket Work Pants

    • 3
    I ask a lot of the pants I wear here at The Family Handyman. First, they have to be ready for me to go back to our shop and spend the day doing carpentry. They also have to be dressy-looking enough that...
  • Ingenious tool storage tip: Rotary bit organizer

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    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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Win a $30,000.00 DIY Dream Home Makeover!

    • 3
    Ever imagine how many projects could be crossed off your to-do list if you only had an influx of cash? A bathroom remodel? New windows? New cabinets and counters for your kitchen? A new deck or patio for...
  • Super-Light Garden Hose

    • 3
    Dragging a heavy-duty hose around my tiny backyard means toppling pots, smashing plants and stripping off flower heads. That's why I love the kink-free Super-Slim Lightweight Hose from Gardener's...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Top iPhone/iPad Home Improvement Apps for DIYers

    • 3
    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...
  • Running PEX water supply lines

    • 3
    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...
  • Kitchen Ideas: The proper care and feeding of your garbage disposer

    • 3
    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....
  • Shop Organization: Idea for a Cheap Tool Cabinet

    • 3
    I'm an inveterate scrounger, so when I saw two used file cabinets put out for recycling; I decided to recycle them myself. I needed a larger tool cabinet for my garage shop, and I thought I could make...
  • Bookcases: Pro Shortcut for DIY Furniture Makers

    • 3
    The ideal bookcase has open shelves for items you want to put on display, and enclosed storage space for stuff you don't. But the trouble with enclosed spaces is that they require doors—and making...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • My Best Backyard Idea Ever: Eliminate Grass Trimming

    • 2
    Well, I can't really call it my idea. But it is the best little project I've ever done in my backyard because it saves me hours of grass trimming every summer. Here's the idea. Set a row of...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Excellent Sawhorses

    • 2
    Paying $120 for a pair of sawhorses might be stark-raving insane, but I recently did just that, and I’m a tightwad. And after using the Trojan TS-35 sawhorse legs, I don’t regret forking over...
  • Favorite Products at this Year’s Hardware Show

    • 2
    I typically attend a couple of tradeshows every year to try out new products and stay abreast of the latest home improvement trends. I spent the better part of this week in Las Vegas at the Hardware Show...
  • A New Backsplash in Six Hours

    • 2
    I’ve wanted to install a tile backsplash in my kitchen ever since I wrote an article about them almost two years ago. Well, I finally got around to it last weekend—and the results are spectacular...
  • 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...
  • Robot for Cleaning Shop Floors

    • 2
    The iRobot Dirt Dog offers an interesting twist on the shop vacuum. As a member of the iRobot family—a line of robotic cleaning machines—the Dirt Dog has rotating brushes that automatically...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Pros Shop The Home Depot Too

    • 2
    I recently bought a hot tub for the backyard and needed to run electricity to it. I know a little bit about wiring but didn’t feel comfortable adding a new circuit to the panel. Luckily, my neighbor...
  • Avoid Frozen Sump Pump Pipes

    • 2
    Last fall I tackled a little project that could have caused me big problems. The previous spring, I had a drain tile system installed in my basement. The system discharges outside, and I quickly tired...
  • DIY Fixes for a Greener Home

    • 2
    As DIYers, we love to build, tinker and fix things. Here are five things you can do to make your everyday DIY efforts greener. They can save you money, make your home more energy-efficient and/or make...
  • 10 Tips for Using a Chain Saw

    • 2
    A chain saw is one of the most dangerous tools a do-it-yourselfer will ever handle. One mistake and you can wind up with serious injuries. Here are 10 common sense tips to protect you and your property...
  • It's Elementary: Teaching Kids to DIY

    • 2
    When a pipe leaks or a door sticks, some people grab their toolbox. Others grab their phone and call a pro. For that second type of person, home ownership is frustrating and expensive. And I don't...
  • 7 Ways to Make Your Home More Functional in the New Year

    • 2
    A brand new year means it's time to reorganize and reprioritize the spaces around your house. The good news is, there are simple ways to gain more storage in the most important rooms in your house...
  • Why You Should Buy a Trim Gun

    • 2
    If you're interested in getting started in woodworking by building small projects, you really don't need a fully equipped shop. With a little creativity, you can build just about any small project...
  • Garage Security: A Burglarproof Door

    • 2
    To get real-world garage-security advice, I've spoken with cops, insurance adjusters, even burglars. But one of my most interesting security talks was with a firefighter who routinely busts through...
  • Four Tips to Prepare for the Next Ice Storm

    • 2
    Salt your walks and driveway ahead of time Pick up a bag or container of ice melt or deicing salt at a home center or hardware store and sprinkle it on your sidewalks, steps and driveway. If you have a...
  • Beat the Heat and Cut Cooling Costs

    • 2
    Ten years ago, I installed central air conditioning in my old house, but the south bedrooms were still too steamy. I thought about reworking the duct system to pump in more cold air, but tried something...
  • How to Choose a Pond Pump

    • 2
    To help you size a pond pump, measure how high the water needs to be lifted. If you're pumping water to reach the top of a fountain, the start of a little river or a waterfall, you have to know how...
  • Bagster Smarts

    • 2
    You buy the Bagster bag, which costs about $30, and Waste Management will pick it up for a collection fee. The fee varies—in our area, it's $70. To find the service and price it, go to thebagster...
  • Instant Kitchen Storage: Two 10-Minute Projects

    • 2
    Here are two simple projects to organize items in your kitchen. The best part is that each project takes 10 minutes or less to do. Project #1: Super-simple spice storage This storage project will actually...
  • Cheapskate Picket Fence

    • 2
    I needed to make a fence for my new dog. Lady has the dangerous habit of roaming about the busy county road that we live on. I love my dog, but I'm also cheap. I thought I could get by with spending...
  • 10 Tips for Using a Generator

    • 2
    Generators can be a real lifesaver. But used improperly, they can be a killer, too. Carbon monoxide and electrocution hazards are real dangers if you don't know what you're doing. Here are a few...
  • 3 Plumbing Repairs Anyone Can Do

    • 2
    According to a study I've been conducting for the past 20 years, almost every home in North America needs at least one of these plumbing repairs. And that's a shame, because each of these plumbing...
  • Favorite Electrical Tool

    • 2
    Every time I install new electrical cable, I wind up using three tools. First I use a utility knife to slice down the center of the cable jacket and remove the excess jacket. I figure I'm doing well...
  • Best Father's Day Gift Ever

    • 2
    Adam's mother gets him to finish the painting job in Tom Sawyer-like fashion. We had spent every weekend for two months getting ready for our oldest son Sean's high school graduation party. The...
  • Build an Emergency Kit

    • 2
    Sponsored by The Home Depot 3M First Aid Kit It's been a wet and stormy spring in the Midwest. We've already had two storms that knocked out the power at our house. When the first storm hit, I...
  • Restore an Aging Deck

    • 1
    Sponsored by Rust-Oleum My friend Julie has a four-year-old deck. It's never been stained or treated, so it's looking old and gray, and the wood is starting to crack and splinter. When she asked...
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