The success of any home renovation, maintenance or building project depends on choosing and using the right tools and materials. Not only do good tools and materials make the job go faster and produce great results, but you are likely to save money in the long run in terms of less wastage and longer tool life. Learning how to use tools and materials safely is also crucial.
Another project time-saver is to learn the tricks of the trade. Simple techniques such as using magnetized drill bits will carve valuable time off your projects...
To avoid bending and warping sheet metal when sawing it, place it between two pieces of wood held together with clamps. Position these boards along the cutting line, so asto hold the metal firmly and prevent damage as you saw.
To properly use a handsaw on a regular piece of wood like a stud, line up the saw blade on the guideline, holding it at a 45° angle. For finer work, lower the blade and for harder wood adjust the blade to a steeper angle. Hold the saw handle with your thumb and three fingers and place your index finger on the handle's side, as if you are aiming down the blade. Start with short strokes to make a groove and then lengthen them to include as many of the teeth in each stroke as you can. Let the teeth do the work and avoid pushing too hard, which may cause a wavy or inaccurate cut.
If you're having trouble fastening or unfastening a screw, hold the screwdriver in one hand and apply additional torque to the shaft with locking pliers held in the other hand.
There are many types of plywood and each one is manufactured for a different purpose. For example, spruce plywood is used for construction and is usually sold in thicknesses from 3/8" to 3/4", the thicker type being used for flooring while thinner sheets are used for sheathing on roofs and sides of new homes. “A” grade plywood has been sanded smooth on both sides and is ready for painting. “B” grade plywood is cheaper because it has voids that have been filled with plugs. “C” grade is the lowest grade of the surface plywoods; it contains blemishes and is not always uniform in colour. “D” grade is a standard sheathing plywood designed to strengthen structures and is usually used as a base for a finishing product. “AC” grade, also known as “Good 1 Side”, is popular because it has a smooth surface on one side that's suitable for most projects, and it is very affordable. “CD” grade has one smooth side and one side with unfilled voids; this is fine for shed construction or for use under siding.
It can be tricky trying to install small screws in small, confined spaces where it's difficult to hold them with your hands. To solve the problem, use a magnetized screw bit. Most screws will stay on these bits unaided. Magnetized screw bits can be purchased or you can make them yourself by rubbing a magnet against the bit 10 to 15 times, using the same end, or polarity and just one side.
Reciprocating saws are great for cutting in hard-to-reach places but they are not ideal for accurate and straight cuts. If you need to cut a straight line across the top of a stud, make a guide by cutting a small length of stud (either 2" x 4" or 2" x 6") three-quarters of the way through, on a chop saw. Now place this against the main stud and line up the saw cut (sawnside facing out) with the mark on the stud. (You may have to trim the ends of this piece to make it line up.) Insert a screw above and below the cut to fasten it securely to the stud. Now the reciprocating saw blade will follow the cut and make a straight cut through the stud.
When it comes to choosing moulding, the room and location will greatly influence your choice. For a bathroom, you can choose wood and seal it, but PVC moulding is already waterproof and pre-coloured. It can be glued or stapled just like wood moulding. For most rooms and hallways, MDF moulding is perfect because it is inexpensive, easy to install and pre-primed. It comes in lengths of up to 16', which minimizes the number of visible joints. Pre-primed, finger-jointed pine moulding is also a good option. Use coated imitation wood mouldings rather than finger-jointed pine to match with hardwood cabinets.
Place the tool in a bench vise and use a grinder to remove the head of the rivet. With a hammer and a hole punch, drive the rivet through the broken piece of wood and out the other side of the tool head. Take the tool head out of the vise and jam it down on the new handle. Drill a hole through the new handle using the old rivet holes as a guide. Secure the handle in the tool head with new rivets or bolts.
Are you having trouble moving your bench saw by yourself? Install small wheels on one side. Screw flat, perforated ¼" x 1" metal plates to the legs, to serve as supports and handles. At the bottom, fasten a ½"-diameter axle attached to two old lawnmower wheels. The axle's height should be set so that the wheels clear the ground by ¼", to assure the saw remains stable when lifted and moved.
Safety is an essential part of any project, however large or small. Overlooking the safety aspects of a job can result in a trip to the emergency room. Eyes must always be protected. There are many types and styles of safety glasses on the market, and no home should be without a pair. Hands are in the front line and should be protected with gloves, be it to prevent splinters, burns from a solder torch or injuries due to heavy lifting. When it comes to hand tools, choose the right one for the job and always keep your tools in good condition. It is often the dull tools that cause the most accidents because they require extra pressure in order to perform properly. Finally, be sure to secure yourself when working above the ground; for example, always wear a safety harness for roof work.