Author Archives: Timothy Dahl

About Timothy Dahl

Enjoys the beauty of heirloom tools and the power of a recip saw. Timothy is the founder of the home improvement blog, Charles & Hudson and do-it-yourself children's site, Built by Kids. You can follow him on Twitter @Charles_Hudson.

3 Designers Go Head-to-Head for a Good Cause

New York was buzzing last week with Design Week and ICFF taking place, but there were also a few other cool events happening around the city. Lowe’s was in town kicking off their Designer Challenge, which asked three designers to create an 11′ x 11′ space using elements from the retailer’s 2012 Outdoor Spring Collection.

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Coolest Kids Products at ICFF

The International Contemporary Furniture Fair is filled with amazing designs for the modern home, and not to be forgotten are the kids who also deserve beautifully designed furniture.

There were at least a few pieces on display at ICFF that speak to a child’s sense of wonder and playfulness without being juvenile.

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New Smart Home Option: AT&T’s Digital Life


Technology is permeating our domestic lives and “smart homes” are at the apex of this movement. Communications giant AT&T is launching Digital life, a connected home program in two parts. The first is a suite of web-enabled home products; the second is an intuitive platform for monitoring and managing those products—from any internet connection, be it laptop, mobile phone, or tablet computer.

Digital Life is being rolled out on a trial basis in Atlanta and Dallas. We assume that once they’ve worked out the kinks, the program will be made available nationwide.

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New Wave of Brushless Motor Power Tools

Brushless Motor Power Tools

Brushless motor technology has been around for a while, but only within the last couple years have power tool manufacturers actually incorporated brushless technology into cordless power tools.

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The Hardscaping Trend: Upgrade Your Outdoor Areas


Home sales are still recovering, but business is brisk when it comes to homeowners upgrading their outdoor spaces. Landscapes and lawns will always require maintenance, but more people are investing bigger dollars in adding outdoor kitchens, fire pits and seating areas.

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Lawn Care Tips from Pennington Seed

Lawn Care Tips

Pennington Seed has been cultivating and improving lawn seed for more than 60 years, so I was delighted to have the opportunity to visit the company’s headquarters and lab in the Willamette Valley of Oregon.

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DIY Kitchen Countertop Transformation

Resurfacing Laminate Countertops - After Detail

Photo: TDahl

At one time or another most of us have considered remodeling the kitchen. It’s the one room in the house that sees the most use and abuse, the one that demands both efficiency and good looks. Because kitchens are used on a daily basis, however, finding the opportunity to remodel them can be hard. And unlike bathrooms, most homes don’t have a second kitchen to enlist, so when the countertops are ripped up or the cabinets pulled down—you’re stuck.

A new product from Rust-Oleum could solve the time and budget issue for at least one of your kitchen remodeling desires: countertop re-surfacing. The company’s new Countertop Transformations system is a do-it-yourself solution formulated to turn worn and old laminate kitchen countertops into durable, like-new surfaces. Rust-Oleum invited me to their launch event to “test drive” the new product and—over the course of a couple hours—I was able to transform a sample countertop in just five easy steps:

Step 1: Prepare the surface with the Diamond Embedded Sanding Tool (included).
Step 2: Apply the Countertop Transformations Adhesive Base Coat.
Step 3: Spread the Decorative Color Chips.
Step 4: Sand and smooth.
Step 5: Apply the Countertop Transformations Protective Top Coat.

Resurfacing Laminate Countertops - In Progress

Photo: TDahl

Once the top coat dries, you have the look of a designer finish without the expense, mess or downtime associated with replacement.

There are a variety of finishes including Pebbled Ivory, Desert Sand, Java Stone, Onyx and Charcoal–some of the most popular “neutrals” in kitchen design today. The finish stands up to daily wear and tear and features HomeShield Antimicrobial Protection, which serves to inhibit the growth of mold, mildew, and other odor- or stain-causing microbes.

Rust-Oleum’s Countertop Transformations is backed by a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. A dedicated product support line is also available for assistance with projects, should you need it.

If you’re seeking an inexpensive alternative to a countertop upgrade, you may want to give this product a try. A single kit covers 50 square feet and sells for $250, a fraction of what you would pay for new countertops. Look for Rust-Oleum’s Countertop Transformations at a home store near you.

For more on kitchen countertops, consider:

Laminate Countertop Renewal
Kitchen Countertops 101
Personalize Your Kitchen Countertops

How To: Use a Paint Spray Gun

How to Use a Paint Spray Gun


Are you tired of using a brush and messing with a tray whenever you paint? Consider investing in a paint spray gun. Some of the newer models are a great value and can save you time on your next paint job. But it does take a little practice to learn how to use these tools properly.

A spray gun works great for coating uneven surfaces like door frames and window shutters, but because properly cleaning one takes a considerable amount of time and effort, you might want to consider using a paint sprayer exclusively for bigger jobs.

Below are some tips to help you use a paint spray gun successfully:

Air or airless
We are talking about air sprayers here. Airless sprayers take even more training to use and typically aren’t appropriate for home projects.

What are you painting?
Keep in mind what type of surface you are painting and what type of paint you are using. Not all paint guns are the same, and they all have different settings. Check the thickness of the paint and the volume of the spray. You can also adjust the angle from a wider spray to a narrower pattern.

Technique is everything
First, test your technique and the sprayer itself by running water through it. You want an even application best achieved by keeping the sprayer level while moving your body, not just your arm, along the path of the spray. If you only move your arm, the distribution of paint will not be even.

Take it slow
You’ll be tempted to finish a job quickly but if you start to rush, it’ll show up in your work. And you’ll waste paint. Paint dispenses from a sprayer at a higher rate than you’d expect, so take it slow.

For more on painting, consider:

Weatherproof with Paint
Choosing a Paint Sprayer
Painting the House: Should You Hire a Pro?

Organize Your Garage to Keep Your Sanity

Garage Storage Organization

Photo: Flickr

Those of us lucky enough to have a garage space in our home tend to take it for granted. This private and secure parking space can quickly become a ‘catch-all’ for myriad tools, products, and boxes of clothing—anything we just want out of sight. The problem is these items can also disappear from our mental inventory of possessions and, before you know it, become a garage full of stuff that you never use—or worse—forgot you ever had.

Related: 10 “Neat” Garage Storage Solutions

One of the problems with all this accumulated clutter is that the legit items that you need in your life, such as your tools or space for long-term storage, tend to get squeezed out or lost amid the mess. Here are some tips to help organize your garage to retain your sanity before you lose all hope.

1. Purge
Before you can even begin to organize the good stuff, you’ve got to remove the superfluous junk that you no longer need. That camping gear that you haven’t touched in 10 years, get rid of it. Those clothes that will never come back in style, donate. Consider having a yard sale to try and squeeze a little cash out of your better discards.

2. Plan
Once you’ve got to the good stuff, you’ll need to set a plan for organizing these items. First consider your layout and what items you’ll need easy access to and what items can go in a more “permanent” storage location. Tools, clothing and household items should probably be front and center so you don’t forget you have these items. Holiday decorations can be positioned further back as long as they are properly labeled and you know where to find them.

3. Organize
When you’ve decided where everything will go, you will need to determine how to physically organize the space. Open shelves are great for storing file boxes and power tools; getting them up off the floor and in an easy-to-reach position. Cabinets and drawers are good places for chemicals and cleaning fluids. Hooks are also great for getting things like bikes, brooms, and sporting equipment out of the way. Getting items off the floor is a huge factor in sorting out your space.

4. Label
As you begin to place your items on shelves or in storage bins, make sure you label them with BIG BOLD WORDS.  Use tape and a Sharpie instead of writing directly on a box so you don’t have to continue to cross out old contents. Be very clear on recording what items are in each box as this will save you time and headache later.

5. Keep it Clean
A clean and organized garage can quickly become messy. To prevent this, make a staging space on top of a box or counter in your garage where you can place items temporarily until they are stored in their proper place.  This will save you from just haphazardly throwing boxes or items on top of boxes and starting the vicious cycle all over again.

Garage Storage and Organization

Photo: Flickr

For more on storage and organization, consider:

Optimize Your Attic Space
Quick Tip: Garage Storage Solutions 
Basement Storage Ideas

Milwaukee Tool Introduces a Refreshed Lineup

I traveled to Milwaukee, WI, a couple weeks ago to visit the headquarters of the Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation and check out their latest product lineup, including some awesome new “top secret” introductions.

MILWAUKEE®, founded in 1924, definitely caters to the professional user–electricians, plumbers and contractors–but their cordless lineup of power tools continues to grow. They showed us some new tools that any homeowner-DIYer would covet, many of them “coming soon” to a Home Depot near you.

The M12 cordless platform is one of the fastest growing segments for the company and this year they will introduce a compact jigsaw (pictured above)—one of the first of its kind. Our on-site testing of the tool showed it to perform extremely well. We were able to cut puzzle pieces out of particleboard with ease.

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