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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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  • Walking Path Upgrade

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    Ten years ago, I installed a pathway from my house to my shop using concrete stepping-stones that looked like log cutouts. I never did like the way it turned out, and it was a monster pain to keep the...
  • GreenWorks DigiPro G-MAX 40V Chainsaw

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    I have a 40-year love affair (well, sometimes a hate affair) with chainsaws. One of my first jobs was cutting down Christmas trees at two bits a tree. I've felled big trees and small trees, and cut...
  • Create a Bright, Dry Space in a Damp, Gloomy Basement

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    Yoga mats, dumbbells and exercise bikes. My wife's growing interest in physical fitness had transformed our living room into a gymnasium. And my suggestions to work out downstairs were always met with...
  • New Veranda Deck and Fence for Mom

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    Sponsored by Home Depot Recently, my two brothers, sister and I decided to build my mother a new deck and fence. It wasn’t easy to come to a consensus about which products to buy, but we knew we...
  • Restore an Aging Deck

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    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...
  • Build an Emergency Kit

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    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...
  • Success With Olympic Paints and Stains

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    Sponsored by Olympic Paints Transform a deck in just two days with "Rescue It!" A few weeks ago, friends asked my opinion about their aging wood deck. The deck was about 12 years old and had...
  • Dremel Ultra-Saw Works Great for Building a Planter

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    Sponsored by The Home Depot I decided to try my hand at building a cast concrete planter as research for a potential magazine story on the subject. The folks at Dremel recently sent us a new tool to try...
  • Greenworks G-MAX Twin Force Mower

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    Sponsored by Greenworks Overall Portrait The latest cordless yard tools are a match for gas-powered tools. And this new mower from Greenworks is a great example. It's powered by a 40v lithium-ion battery...
  • Breathe New Life Into An Old Wagon

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    Sponsored by Rust-Oleum Wagon: Before Photo This wagon was given to my wife and me as a wedding present by two very close friends. I thought it was a strange gift at the time, but to be honest, I can’t...
  • Secure, Monitor and Control Your Home from Just About Anywhere

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    It's easy to buy home security equipment on the Internet. And home energy and automation gear is just as easy to find. But buying the hardware is the easy part. Programming the devices and making the...
  • Pros Shop The Home Depot Too

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    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...
  • Dickies Multi-Use Pocket Work Pants

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    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...
  • Better Windows, Better Value

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    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...
  • DIY Safety Tips

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    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...
  • Deck Finishing: From Blah to Beautiful in Half a Day

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    If the deck boards on my front porch ever had a finish, it was long gone before I bought the house 10 years ago. The dull gray decking combined with my gray steel siding had to produce an unimpressive...
  • Husqvarna AWD mower

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    We have a cabin on the banks of the Mississippi River, and the "lawn" is more like a sandbox with a jungle of weeds. And with high water and whatnot, I don't get down to mow as often as I...
  • Best Father's Day Gift Ever

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    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...
  • Water Softener Salt Smarts

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    Sponsored by Cargill If your water is high in iron, buy pellets formulated for iron removal, like the type shown. Don't skimp by buying cheap rock salt. In the end, the money you save will be far offset...
  • Answer the Door Without Opening the Door

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    Sponsored by Vtech You can add all the deadbolts you want, but the second you open your front door to greet an unexpected visitor you expose yourself and your family to some risk. Of course, you can view...
  • How to Buy the Perfect Home—for a DIYer

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    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...
  • The Greatest Goofs of All Time

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    Well, of course there's no such thing as the "greatest" goofs, because the best goofs (or worst, depending on your perspective) are always your own. But over the 17 years or so we've...
  • 3 Ways for Woodworkers to Save Money

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    Woodworking can be one expensive hobby. High-quality blades, sanding belts and router bits are costly—and worth every penny. Here are three great ways to make these items last. A sharp blade that's...
  • Homemade Tool Caddy

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    I needed a little extra storage space to organize handled tools like shovels, rakes and brooms. My walls were pretty filled up , so I thought I would buy one of those plastic tool caddies that sit on the...
  • Five Easy Ways to Reduce Yard Work

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    If you feel like a slave to your yard trying to keep up with all of its maintenance demands, it's time to set yourself free. Here are some easy ways to reduce or even eliminate basic yard chores so...
  • Three Simple Household Repairs That'll Save You Hundreds

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    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...
  • Tools That Make Yard Work Easy: The Big Backpack Blower

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    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...
  • Avoid Frozen Sump Pump Pipes

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    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...
  • Don't Burn Down Your House: Preventing Clothes Dryer Fires

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    Lint buildup in a dryer and its vent cuts the dryer's efficiency. Clothes take longer to dry, while your energy bills go up. But the biggest reason to clean out lint is that lint buildup can lead to...
  • Lower Your Utility Bills: Better Bath Fan Controls

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    A bath fan can save energy or waste it, depending on how long you let it run after a steamy shower. If you don't let it run long enough, a lot of humidity is left in the air, and that forces your air...
  • Low-Maintenance Landscaping Ideas

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    I'm a yard and garden nut, and there's nothing I love more than digging in the dirt. But I'm also very busy, so I need my yard and garden to thrive without a lot of watering, weeding and fertilizing...
  • Time to Deal with Crabgrass!

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    If you had crabgrass last year, you have thousands of seeds in your lawn just waiting to sprout. And once that happens, you'll likely be looking at crabgrass again all summer. All it takes is one itty...
  • Backyard Structures: Three Projects to Inspire You

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    Well, it's almost spring again and time to start planning for that backyard structure you've been thinking about. At our house, we've been contemplating a gazebo over the patio and are just...
  • Frugal Living: Make Your Vacuum Last

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    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...
  • Organizing a Chest Freezer

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    My wife recently told me to quit complaining about our dirty, unorganized chest freezer, and do something about it, so I did. Before: My chest freezer was impossible to keep organized. I emptied the whole...
  • DIY Fixes for a Greener Home

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    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...
  • Benefits of Synthetic Oil

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    Almost all new engines are designed to run on synthetic oil. To find out if your vehicle actually requires it, just check your owner's manual. If the manufacturer specifies a synthetic blend for your...
  • Four Tips to Prepare for the Next Ice Storm

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    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...
  • Garage Security: A Burglarproof Door

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    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...
  • Why You Should Buy a Trim Gun

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    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...
  • 7 Ways to Make Your Home More Functional in the New Year

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    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...
  • It's Elementary: Teaching Kids to DIY

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    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...
  • 10 Easy Holiday Storage Tips

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    With New Year's Eve just around the corner, you'll soon be thinking about cleaning up after the holidays and getting organized for 2013. Here are 10 of my favorite storage tips to make putting...
  • Winter Driving: Tips to Stay Out of the Ditch

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    Here in Minnesota, we had our first taste of winter driving a few weeks ago when a surprise dusting of snow fell on warm asphalt and froze, turning the roads into a virtual skating rink. Traffic was snarled...
  • 3 Tips for DIY Holiday Success

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    Getting ready for the holidays is a lot of work. I think the Grinch had the best approach, but simply stealing Christmas isn't an option at my house. So I've come up with some DIY tricks for better...
  • Top 5 Tips to Get Your Car Ready for Winter Driving

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    1. Check (and change) your coolant Driving on worn-out coolant is a bad idea all year-round, but it's especially bad in winter. Worn coolant can freeze and destroy your engine. You can test its freeze...
  • 10 Tips for Dealing With Water Damage, Mold and Mildew

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    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...
  • 10 Tips for Using a Chain Saw

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    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...
  • 10 Tips to Survive a Blackout

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    A power outage is more than an inconvenience; it can lead to expensive repairs and may even be dangerous to you and your family. These tips will help you protect yourself, your wallet and maintain some...
  • 10 Tips for Using a Generator

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    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...
  • Instant Kitchen Storage: Two 10-Minute Projects

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    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

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    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...
  • Fall Lawn Care: Keep a Healthy Yard Through Winter

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    Most homeowners assume that at the end of the summer, their grass care duties are over. Nothing could be more wrong. The truth is, fall is the time when your lawn needs you the most. That's the best...
  • My Workshop Space Saver

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    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...
  • 5 Favorite Easy DIY Projects

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    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...
  • Hurricane Sandy Aftermath Tips

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    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 I Saved Money This Month: Cleaning Refrigerator Coils

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    "The smartest thing you can do for your fridge is to keep the coils clean. It cuts electricity bills and repair bills." Clean refrigerator coils and save money. All it takes is a vacuum, a brush...
  • How to Plan for Kitchen Cabinets

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    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...
  • Choosing the Right Paint Sheen

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    I went to the paint store the other day to pick up paint for the bathroom, and the salesperson asked what sheen I wanted. I'm painting woodwork and the walls. Even though I thought I knew the answer...
  • Favorite Electrical Tool

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    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...
  • Instant Kitchen Storage: Racks for Canned Goods

    • 1
    Finding more storage in your overflowing kitchen (without adding cabinets) isn't hard. You just have to be creative. Here's a simple project that will help you tame your kitchen chaos, and the...
  • High-Definition TV Wiring

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    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...
  • 3 Plumbing Repairs Anyone Can Do

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    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...
  • Easy Repairs With Epoxy

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    Most of the houses on my block are more than 100 years old, so as you can imagine, they need a lot of maintenance and repair. I was walking the dog the other day and ran into one of my neighbors who owns...
  • Hurricane Safety

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    Hurricane season is here. With tropical storm Isaac in the Gulf headed towards New Orleans, it's a good time to remind people of hurricane safety precautions to minimize damage caused by a hurricane...
  • Monitor Your Energy Consumption

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    My wife and I were recently going over our monthly bills trying to figure out how we could save a little money. When our electricity bill came to the chopping block, the chest freezer in our garage became...
  • No-Tools Toilet Installation

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    I'm a little wary when manufacturers say that there are no tools needed to install one of their products. So when given the opportunity to install a new toilet for my master bathroom, I decided to...
  • How to Save Money: Replace Brake Rotors

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    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...
  • Slanted Bookshelves

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    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...
  • Beat the Heat and Cut Cooling Costs

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    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...
  • A New Faucet: Hard Choices, Easy Installation

    • 1
    I've installed hundreds of faucets over the years, but none recently. Yesterday I learned that choosing a faucet is tough and installing one is easier than it used to be. The tough part in choosing...
  • How to Clean Your Air Conditioner

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    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...
  • How I Saved Money: I Made an Old Door Energy Efficient

    • 0
    Save money by sealing your exterior door with aluminum and vinyl weatherstripping. Cut the strips to length with a hacksaw. Then press the vinyl bulb against the door while you drive in the screws. A lot...
  • Rose Gardens: My Radical Response to Japanese Beetles

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    My Japanese beetle-bedraggled roses are in the very back row behind the peony (in 2011). Japanese beetles chow down on roses! My North Star cherry was lovely in bloom (before those beetles chomped on it...
  • Bagster Smarts

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    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...
  • Maintenance-Free Decking: PVC vs. Composite

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    Do you know how to avoid staining a deck? Build it from something other than wood. There are a hundred different low-maintenance decking products on the market, but the two most popular are composite and...
  • Drip Irrigation for Vegetables

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    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...
  • How to Choose a Pond Pump

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    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...
  • What The Avengers Can Teach Us About Home Remodeling

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    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 Make a Shade Tree Thrive

    • 0
    Shade trees need lots of water but not all at one time. Rule of thumb: Stick your finger in the soil near the tree; if saturated, don't water. I spent part of last weekend digging out two-year-old...
  • Garage Organization: Finding Space on High

    • 0
    I have enough camping gear in my garage to start my own REI store. That’s why I’m always on the lookout for ways to improve my garage organization and storage. One of the most successful was...
  • Xeriscape Gardening: Growing Plants With Less Water

    • 0
    My zone four xeriscape garden has a succession of blooms from spring through fall including pink soapwort, alliiums, dianthus, artemisias, Russian sage and native grasses. All of these thrive in low water...
  • Stop Roof Leaks Before They Start

    • 0
    Torn rubber and missing nails can allow gallons of water into your house. It's springtime! The snow is gone, and this can only mean one thing: It's time for my yearly roof inspection. Living in...
  • How to Build a Deck: Prevent Rot at the Patio Door

    • 1
    Plan on building a deck? Reduce the chance of water infiltration—install the decking a few inches below patio and entry door thresholds. It's true that decking installed at the same level as...
  • Entrance Gates: Replacement Tips

    • 0
    No part of a fence gets more use than the entrance gates. And, if your fence has been in place for a while, chances are the posts are starting to deteriorate and the gates aren't closing properly....
  • Build a Storm Shelter

    • 0
    Do you live in an area prone to tornadoes or hurricanes? Maybe you've been considering building a storm shelter, also known as a tornado room. It's relatively easy to design a room to do double...
  • Four Impressive Products from the 2012 International Builders’ Show

    • 0
    Ron Hazelton from the 2012 International Builders' Show When they say the builders’ show has miles of aisles they’re not kidding. Even if you spend all three days hiking the show floor...
  • My Best Backyard Idea Ever: Eliminate Grass Trimming

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    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...
  • Setting up a New Garden: Choose the Right Site

    • 1
    Spring has sprung, and if you're thinking about setting up a brand new garden, here are some tips to get you started on the right foot. To determine your plant choices, consider how much sun you have...
  • How to Plant Grass to Fix a Bare Spot

    • 0
    If you have bare patches in your lawn, it's a simple project to reseed them. It just takes some simple prep work and two to three weeks of everyday dedication. That's the daily watering part. And...
  • Pergola: Add a Fabric Cover for Extra Protection

    • 0
    A pergola is a great way to add a little shade and a sense of privacy to your patio. But the open latticework doesn't provide complete shade or any protection from rain. If you're planning to build...
  • 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...
  • How to Build Shelves From Dowels

    • 1
    I needed a way to clear the clutter off my desk, so I came up with a shelving system made from dowels and scrap wood. It was inexpensive and easy to build, and it looks much better than some store-bought...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Save energy and save money: Seal attic air leaks

    • 1
    Even though this winter is milder than usual in many parts of the country, you're probably still paying more than you should to heat your house. Even if you've checked your attic insulation levels...
  • Car trim: Repair your car's molding

    • 1
    Carmakers long ago stopped using spring clips to attach car trim and molding. Instead, they use adhesive tape. The tape works well. But chemicals like wax and bug remover can destroy the tape's bond...
  • Bathroom Ideas: Offset Shower Controls

    • 2
    Centering a shower valve right under the shower head is standard procedure. But I like to offset the valve to one side. That way, the hose from a handheld shower head won't get caught on the handles...
  • 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...
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