Welcome to Bob Vila


Weekend Projects: 5 Delectable DIY Picnic Tables

Whatever your aesthetic, whatever your needs, there's a DIY picnic table for you. Don't miss these five creative takes on a backyard classic. One is bound to suit your summer style—and your budget.

There’s nothing nicer than enjoying the company of friends and family over food and drink in the summertime. But do you have room to seat everyone on your deck, porch, or patio? If not, consider adding a picnic table to your suite of outdoor furniture. Though it has a relatively compact footprint, a picnic table provides plenty of seating, possibly even enough for every member of your crew. Plus, it doesn’t have to cost much. If you’ve got the time and a little lumber, you can make a DIY picnic table for hundreds less than you’d pay for a brand-new setup. Scroll down now to see five favorite DIY picnic table designs!

 

1. GET BENCHED

DIY Picnic Table - Benches

Photo: instructables.com

Compared with a stand-alone picnic table, a design with detached benches offers more versatility. Because the pieces need not travel together, the table and benches can be put into service in different places, for different purposes. Visit Instructables for a guide to making the model pictured above, complete with sleek profile and mitered corners.

 

2. REPURPOSE PALLETS

DIY Picnic Table - Pallets

Photo: diycozyhome.com

These days, people are using plywood shipping pallets to make all sorts of nifty furniture. Here, a handful of pallets have been combined—with only slight modifications—to create a DIY picnic table. The simple, utilitarian design can be enlivened with the addition of paint in your favorite bold, summery hues.

 

3. PACK A SUITCASE

DIY Picnic Table - Suitcase

Photo: momentarilyyoursevents.blogspot.com

Equip yourself for impromptu picnics with the ultimate in upcycling—a vintage suitcase that can not only carry snacks and beverages, but also convert into a table at a moment’s notice. Oh, and did we forget to mention the speakers? Yup—expect conversations with strangers wherever you take this ingenious creation.

 

4. PIPE DOWN

DIY Picnic Table - Plumbing Pipes

Photo: 4men1lady.com

Easier to build than it looks—and a minimalist complement to any outdoor living area that sports a modern vibe—this industrial-chic DIY picnic table involves two very different materials that, when united, manage to look elegant and perfectly paired. For convenience, add casters to make the piece effortless to move.

 

5. FOR THE KIDS

DIY Picnic Table - Kids

Photo: kidfriendlyhome.com

Prime your patio for pint-sized play by building this DIY picnic table, a scaled-down version of the classic design found in so many parks and yards, today as well as in years past. For kids ages 3 to 10, this bright-painted construction is destined to be home base for everything from meals to arts and crafts.


Bob Vila Radio: Wallpaper Borders

Wallpaper borders are strips of varying widths, typically used as the finishing accent in traditionally wallpapered rooms. But did you know that you can also employ wallpaper borders on their own? Try it!

A wallpapered room has a rich, distinctive look—but hanging wallpaper can be an intense, painstaking job. You can add some of the texture and patterns of wallpaper to any room—without going the whole nine yards—just by adding a wallpaper border.

Wallpaper Borders

Photo: shutterstock.com

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Listen to BOB VILA ON WALLPAPER BORDERS or read the text below:

Border strips, which come in a variety of widths, were once used almost exclusively at the top of a room (where a wallpapered wall met the ceiling) to finish off the look and hide any goofs at the top of the wallpaper. But there’s no reason you can’t add a border alone at the top of a painted wall to add visual interest. A colorful pattern raises the eye, making a room appear larger than it is. If you have very high ceilings, you may want to place the border a few inches below the ceiling to bring the eye down a bit.

Running a border around the room as a chair rail is also a nice decorating idea. It allows you to paint the lower half of the walls a different color than the top. Or wallpaper just the bottom of the walls. Don’t stop there: Wallpaper borders can be used to create picture frame molding effects on large walls, to accent a soffit or a dormer, even to make a kitchen island a real standout. You can completely frame a door or window, accent your fireplace, or come up with your own original ideas for using wallpaper borders.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


How To: Sharpen a Chain Saw

A chain saw with a dull, poorly maintained chain won't cut cleanly or effectively—and it's a safety hazard to boot. Follow these guidelines to sharpen a chain saw sharp and keep your trusty tool in good working order.

How to Sharpen a Chainsaw

Photo: shutterstock.com

Like any other tool in your arsenal, a chain saw must be properly and consistently maintained in order to perform effectively. Of course, you can hire a professional to sharpen your chain saw, but most do-it-yourselfers can handle the job on their own, saving some money in the process. So if you’ve noticed that your chain saw no longer cuts as easily and cleanly as it once did, read on to learn how to sharpen your chain saw and keep the tool in good working order.

Chain saw maintenance requires a basic understanding of the tool’s component parts. The models owned by average homeowners typically include the following:
- Engine
- Drive mechanism
- Guide bar
- Chain

Lubricate
Different chain saws operate slightly differently and have different maintenance requirements. Study the manual that came with your chain saw to understand the needs of your specific model. That said, it’s almost invariably true that every part of a chain saw either must have or would benefit from lubrication. Besides occasionally inspecting the motor and chain, confirm on a regular basis that there’s a sufficient quantity of oil in the tool’s reservoir. Also check the guide bar, which holds the chain in place. It can become twisted or bent during use. Avoid problems by ensuring the integrity of the guide bar before you start up your chain saw, each and every time. Even while you’re working, it’s wise to occasionally spot-check this crucial part of what is, after all, a powerful and potentially dangerous tool.

How to Sharpen a Chainsaw - Detail Blade

Photo: shutterstock.com

Sharpen the Chain Saw
There are two approaches to sharpening a chain saw. You can handle the task by means of an electric sharpener—and if you fell trees frequently, electric sharpeners are an indispensable convenience—or you can accomplish the same result manually, using a combination of muscle, sweat, and sharpening files. Electric sharpeners are used mainly by tradesmen, so these tips focus on the manual method, which is more accessible to DIYers.

The chain comprises a series of teeth. You are going to need a file that precisely matches up with the size of an individual tooth in the chain. For reference, the most common sizes are 3/16″, 5/32″, and 7/32″.

Once you’ve obtained a file of the correct size, begin work by thoroughly cleaning the chain, removing all oil, dirt, and debris. (Depending on the condition of the chain, mineral spirits may be either essential or excessive.) Look closely at the chain as you’re cleaning it. If any of the teeth are damaged, the chain may be unsafe to use, in which case you should repair it (if possible) or swap in a new chain.

For best results, you need to firmly stabilize the chain saw before attempting to file the chain. Some choose to place the chain saw in a vise, with the clamps holding the guide bar in such a way that the chain can rotate freely. Alternatively, you can enlist a helper to keep the tool steady while you work.

Locate the shortest cutter blade on the chain (the cutters are the ones with flat tops). This is where you should begin sharpening. If all the cutters are the same height, then you can start with any tooth on the chain, but remember to mark—with a pencil, marker, or even nail polish—the first one that you sharpen.

Set the file into the notched section at the head of the cutter. Holding the file at an angle—the same angle at which the notch was initially ground or most recently filed—slide the file across, twisting it somewhat so as to create friction. From that initial cutter, proceed to file every second cutter around the chain. Now reverse the saw and proceed to file each of the teeth that you left alone in the course of your first pass. When you’ve finished, the flat tops of all the cutters should be more or less precisely the same length.

Finally, inspect the depth gauges (these are the curved links between the cutters). Each depth gauge, or raker, should be shorter than the adjacent cutter. If you find a depth gauge whose height exceeds that of the closest cutter, file down the raker so that it sits about 1/10″ below the height of its cutter counterpart.

Now that you know how to sharpen a chain saw, bear in mind that the more frequently you use the tool, the more often it’s going to need maintenance. In fact, if you are using the chain saw for hours on end over the course of a day, you may need to pause at some point in order to restore the chain’s sharpness. Also, be aware that chain saws are likely to show wear in some areas more than others. Pay special attention to the area near the tip of the saw, particularly if you often use it for cutting tree limbs.


Art Cool Mini-Splits for Comfort—and Decor

Making a room cool doesn't have to involve loosing a window. Today's mini-split air conditioning units are the smart alternative to traditional window units, delivering comfort and decor all in one.

ArtCool-LG

ArtCool

Summer has arrived, and with the inexorable heat comes the inevitable hunt—for the perfect air conditioner, that is. Homeowners in search of a functional and fashionable alternative to conventional air conditioning units may want to consider a mini-split.  Mini-split air conditioning systems eliminate the need for the extensive wiring and ductwork required for central air systems, making them perfect cooling devices for older homes and new additions.  They also alleviate many of the problems associated with standard window units, namely they are quieter, don’t have to be removed “off-season,” and don’t present a bulky and unattractive appearance in the window. And, if it’s appearance that you are concerned with, LG’s Art Cool Mini Splits were made for you.

Art Cool LG Mini Split

ArtCool LG mini-split air conditioner at SupplyHouse.com

“The Art Cool series is a unique take on the tried-and-true mini split air conditioning formula,” explains Daniel O’Brian, a technical expert from online retailer SupplyHouse.com. “While being functionally the same (and in the same price range as standard mini split systems), they offer a more visually pleasing indoor unit that can actually enhance room decor,” he adds.

LG’s Art Cool line basically consists of two options, both of which come in either air-conditioner-only or heat-pump models: Art Cool Mirror units feature a flat panel surface with smoked charcoal mirror finish, creating a sleek, contemporary silhouette; and the Art Cool Gallery unit provides a 20-by-20 inch square panel that works like a picture frame—allowing the consumer to insert their own artwork or photograph. Both units mount securely on a vertical surface with screws.

Mini-split air conditioning systems typically consist of two separate units: an interior evaporator with a fan and cooling coil, and an outside condenser unit; the two pieces are connected by a refrigerant line set. Mini-split systems are available in single room configurations, which consist of one indoor unit and one outdoor condenser, as well as multi-room configurations, which have two to four indoor units connected to a single outdoor condenser. Most mini-split indoor units are mounted on the wall, although there are some ceiling-mounted versions.

ArtCool LG Mirrorfinish

ArtCool LG Mirror Finish

The LG Art Cool Gallery unit is available as a single zone system in either 9,000- or 12,000-BTU sizes; the Mirror units are available in either single- or multi-zone systems. Choosing the appropriately sized unit is dependent on several factors, including the regional climate, whether the mini split system will operate as a cooling unit only, or a combination of cooling and heating, the number and type of rooms, the number of windows per room and the average number of people occupying the room at a single time. SupplyHouse.com features a useful air conditioner sizing calculator to help consumers determine the correct amount of air conditioner BTUs needed for a given room, or set of rooms.

Typically, mini-split air conditioners will require professional installation by an HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) contractor, because the outdoor unit must be hard-wired to a dedicated circuit breaker and the correct amount of refrigerant must be used in the lines.

Online retailer SupplyHouse.com offers a large selection of mini split air conditioners and accessories from the top manufacturers in the industry.  To learn more about the LG Art Cool systems, view the video below, or visit SupplyHouse.com.

 

This blog has been sponsored on behalf of SupplyHouse.com. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


How To: Install a Window Air Conditioner

With these simple tips, it's a breeze to install a window air conditioner quickly and securely!

Whereas putting in a central air conditioning system typically requires a professional crew, installing a window air conditioner is a cinch. Even a self-described hopeless amateur ought to have little trouble here. In fact, you’re likely to become somewhat of an expert on the process, being that most homeowners choose to remove window air conditioners at the end of the summer and reinstall the units the following year. Bear in mind, however, that not all window designs are meant to accommodate such a large, unwieldy box. The following instructions apply only if you wish to install a window air conditioner in a sash or double-hung window.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Window air conditioner
- Drill
- Screwdriver
- Insulating foam strips

STEP 1
Window air conditioners are sold in a variety of sizes, and each model has a different cooling capacity, rated in BTUs. Many online calculators exist to help you identify the number of BTUs needed to efficiently cool a room of a given size. BTUs aren’t your only concern, however. You also need to be certain that the unit physically fits in your window. Before you shop, measure the width of the window opening and don’t purchase any air conditioner whose housing wouldn’t leave about two inches of wiggle room on either side.

How to Install a Window Air Conditioner - Exterior

Photo: shutterstock.com

STEP 2
Once you’ve purchased and unpacked an appropriately sized air conditioner, you’re ready to install it—but first, grab a friend. Two pairs of hands are best for all but the very smallest air conditioners. Before you move on, attach any provided rails, flanges, or accordion-style panels (or wings) according to the manufacturer’s instructions, using the provided screws. Now your first step is an easy one: Open the window! Open it wide enough to accommodate the height of the air conditioner. Next, pick up the unit and rest it on the bottom of the window frame. Have your helper hold the unit in place while you see to the remaining tasks.

STEP 4
Most window air conditioners are designed with two flanges—one that runs along the top of the unit, another along the bottom. These flanges facilitate the installation process and improve the air conditioner’s stability. After positioning the bottom flange so that it abuts the windowsill, proceed to lower the window sash (which you had raised in Step 2) until its bottom rail meets the top flange on the unit. The air conditioner should now be held in place by the top sash, but have your helper keep hold of it lightly until you’ve completed the next step.

STEP 5

Your air conditioner probably came with one or two small angle brackets that must be used to secure the two sashes together, preventing them from slipping apart or from being accidentally opened, either of which occurrences could cause the air conditioner to fall out of the window. Place the angle bracket against the top sash where it meets the top of the bottom sash. Mark where the screws should go, drill pilot holes, and tighten the screws using a screwdriver. Extend the accordion-style panels (which you attached in Step 2) and secure them to the window using the manufacturer-provided screws. At this point, make sure that all screws that came with the unit have been secured according to the instructions.

STEP 6
The last step is to seal the opening between the upper sash and the lower sash, which has been raised to accommodate the unit. Your air conditioner should have come with a foam insulating strip. Cut it to length, then fit it snugly into the gap between the lower sash and the glass panes of the top sash. If your unit didn’t come with an insulating strip, you can—and should—buy one at your local home improvement center and install it.

Additional Tips
- If you choose to remove the air conditioning unit before the winter, remember to store it upright in a dry location.

- If your air conditioner came with L-brackets, be sure to put these in place before lifting the unit into the window.


The Economical, Environmental, and Emotional Benefits of Tubular Skylights

Rooms filled with natural daylight offer many benefits to your health, mood, and pocketbook. Learn how today's tubular skylights are bringing light to almost every room of the house.

Solatube Daylighting Skylights

Photo: Solatube International

There’s no substitute for natural light. In comparison with the artificial variety, it’s better for your health, the environment, and your electric bill. So figuring out how to get more daylight into your home is a worthwhile endeavor, to say the least. For rooms with an exterior wall, the solution is simple—add a window. For interior spaces where windows aren’t an option, tubular skylights are a smart alternative.

Unlike traditional skylights, which require a direct line of sight from the roof to the light-deprived room below, tubular skylights can deliver natural daylight easily to virtually any area of the house. Factor in the economical, environmental, and emotional benefits they offer, and it’s not hard to see why tubular skylights have become a popular choice for a multitude of today’s residential and commercial daylighting applications.

What are tubular skylights?
Tubular skylights, also known as “solar tubes,” “sun pipes,” “light tunnels,” and “tubular daylighting devices,” typically use a rooftop dome to capture the sun’s rays and then transfer the light indoors through a highly reflective tube. The modular design allows them to be customized to whatever length may be required—up to as much as 40 feet in some cases. Because the tube itself is compact and available in adjustable and flexible designs, it can be configured easily to avoid attic obstructions for fast installation. The result is a more versatile skylight that can carry natural light into interior spaces where traditional skylights and windows can’t reach, spaces like closets, bathrooms, and hallways, to name just a few.

Solatube Daylightig Diagram

Photo: Solatube International

Economic Benefits
One obvious cost-saving benefit of installing a tubular skylight is that daylight is free. Once the device is installed, your dependence on electricity is reduced, and so is your utility bill. Tubular daylighting devices, like those from Solatube International, Inc., are also more affordable and less costly to install than traditional skylights. In most cases, they can be installed in a matter of hours, requiring no construction, drywall, or repainting. Solatube Daylighting Devices are designed with a patented light-capturing dome that redirects low-angle sunlight and rejects overpowering midday summer sun. They also minimize heat gain and loss for added savings on heating and cooling.

Environmental Benefits
Skylights harness one of our most coveted natural and sustainable resources—light from the sun. So putting them to work at home not only lessens reliance on electricity, but also reduces energy consumption from power plants. When we consume less, we conserve more natural resources and help limit greenhouse-damaging gas emissions—a win for us and the planet. For added earth-friendly benefits, Solatube’s manufacturing plant recycles its excess production materials, making their products both clean and green.

Solatube Daylighting System

Photo: Solatube International

Emotional Benefits
It’s no secret that natural light, or the lack thereof, affects us on a physiological level. Consider the existence of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a state of depression that can occur when one doesn’t get enough exposure to the sun. Sunlight plays an important role as a mood elevator by triggering the production of serotonin. It is also a key contributor of heart-protecting vitamin D. And it helps regulate circadian rhythms, which contributes to healthier sleep cycles. Sunlight also heightens energy levels and concentration, making you more productive and naturally alert. In short, daylight is a staple of our existence that we rely on for emotional balance.

In addition to the many economical, environmental, and emotional benefits of tubular skylights, Solatube has created an innovative hybrid that combines daylighting with LEDs. When there’s plenty of sunlight, the Smart LED System delivers natural light. At night, energy-efficient LEDs automatically turn on. The result is a seamless blending of natural and LED light throughout the day and night so that you’re never kept in the dark.

 

This article is sponsored on behalf of Solatube International, Inc. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com


What Would Bob Do? Leveling a Concrete Floor

There are a number of options for leveling a concrete floor. Read on to learn which approach is best for your needs.

How to Level a Concrete Floor

Photo: shutterstock.com

I’d like some advice on how to level a concrete floor. We plan to finish the basement in my house, and there are going to be a couple of sump pumps, so we no longer need the old drain in the middle of the floor. Thanks!

There is no one way to level a concrete floor. Of all the methods available to do-it-yourselfers, which should you employ? That largely depends on how level you want to make the concrete. And that question, in turn, hinges on a related but different question: What type of flooring do you plan to install in your basement?

If you envision carpeting or another type of floor that forgives minor variations in subfloor grade, such as engineered wood or click-and-lock vinyl, then you can probably opt for the least labor-intensive method. Here, a concrete grinder would do the bulk of the work. (You can rent this tool from your local home center.) You’d use it to grind down the most prominent ridges in the floor. To finish the job, you would then mix up a small batch of concrete and use it to fill in any dips or depressions.

If you want to install tiles that glue down, things get a bit trickier. For a successful installation, the concrete floor beneath the tile needs to be more or less perfectly level and smooth. That’s true for compact tiles and even more critical for larger ones, including the popular 1-by-2-foot size. With small tiles, the maximum differential between the lowest and highest point on the floor is 1/4 inch per 10 feet; with larger tiles, the acceptable differential is a mere 1/8 inch per 10 feet. To achieve such flatness, use a self-leveling compound. These come in powdered form and are mixed with water and a fortifying agent. You end up with a thin liquid that when poured from a bucket flows across the existing uneven concrete. Gravity will bring the liquid to a level, but you can help the process along with a broom or trowel.

When it comes to mixing and applying the self-leveling compound, closely follow the manufacturer’s instructions, because every product differs slightly. Generally speaking, though, no matter what compound you choose, you’ll need to take similar steps to prepare the basement beforehand. For one thing, it’s important to remove any flaking paint or loose adhesive from the floor to ensure that the compound can get a good grip on the concrete. Also, so you don’t need an excessive quantity of compound, it’s not a bad idea to grind down any spots on the floor that are especially high. And of course, if there’s a drain—and you mentioned that there is one—it must be capped and sealed around the seams of its cap. Word to the wise: Wear cleats in case you need to walk across the compound while it’s still wet.

Once the self-leveling compound has set, you can proceed to install your chosen flooring. Alternatively, if you’ve had enough DIY for now, remember that you can eschew a finished floor, opting instead to stain, paint, or polish the compound that now forms the top layer of your concrete basement floor slab.


How To: Recover a Chair

A little DIY know-how—and minimal supplies and tools—could transform a lackluster dining chair into a seat of distinction. Here's how to recover a chair seat cushion yourself.

How to Recover a Chair - Complete

Photo: JNoonan

It’s only a matter of time: Sooner or later, your chairs with upholstered seats are going to get worn, dirty, or dated. When you decide those chairs have gotten too beat-up to keep around, remember to weigh your options. Your instinct may be to donate the chairs or throw them away, but if they remain in good condition, why not give a thought to reupholstering the furniture? In your local area, there’s more than likely a professional specializing in these sorts of repairs. Much easier—and yet equally transformative—would be to recover the chairs yourself,  replacing their seat covers with new fabric. Even a novice DIYer can recover a chair within an afternoon. Here’s how.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- New fabric
- Scissors
- Staple gun
- Staples
- Screwdriver

STEP 1

How to Recover a Chair - Materials

Photo: JNoonan

When you undertake to recover a chair, start by measuring the seat cushion to determine how much replacement fabric you’ll need. During the measuring process, be sure to allow for at least three extra inches of fabric on all sides (in later steps, you are going to work with this excess material on the underside of the cushion).

STEP 2

How to Recover a Chair - Unscrewing

Photo: JNoonan

Using a screwdriver, remove the existing cushion from the chair frame. (By the way, this would be an opportune moment to address any minor repairs you wish to make on the chair.) Bear in mind that if there’s only one cover on the cushion, you can recover the chair without even removing the old fabric; simply lay the new fabric over the old. When dealing with a cushion that has more than one cover, however, take off the top layer by drawing out the staples that hold it in place.

STEP 3

How to Recover a Chair - Cutting

Photo: JNoonan

Having laid the fabric onto your work surface, cut a piece that conforms to the dimensions you calculated in the earlier step. Working with a patterned fabric (for example, one that includes a floral medallion)? Then take care to ensure that your cutaway includes the part of the pattern you would like the chair seat to display.

STEP 4

How to Recover a Chair - Stapling

Photo: JNoonan

• To attach the new cover, fold one edge of the fabric over the seat, then staple that fabric to the underside of the cushion, about one or two inches from the edge. From there, stretch the fabric across the top of the seat, folding the fabric over the opposite side of the cushion before stapling again on the side opposite to where you placed the initial fastener.

• After checking to confirm the cover is aligning correctly on the cushion surface, flip it back over and continue stapling along the sides, all while keeping the fabric taut (but not so taut that the weave or pattern becomes distorted). If the cover goes on crooked at any point while you’re working, pop out a staple or two with your screwdriver, then re-attach.

• When you arrive at one of the corners, staple at the same time that you stretch and angle the fabric. It may take some trial and error, but eventually you will figure out how to attach the fabric without causing any wrinkles to appear. Remember that if you do get wrinkles, there’s a quick and easy fix: Just pop out a few staples, adjust the cover, then staple again.

STEP 5

How to Recover a Chair - Trimming

Photo: JNoonan

By now you will have finished stapling on the cover. Proceed to trim away the excess fabric by means of a scissor, leaving one or two inches of material beyond the staples. There’s no need to sweat appearances, as the underside of the cushion will not be visible. Finally, reattach the newly recovered cushion to the chair frame.

Voila! It’s no more complicated than that. All it takes, really, is a length of fabric and a staple gun. Believe it or not, you can get good at this with a little practice. And you’ll be amazed by how easy it becomes to refresh your cushions with a new look, all for little more than the cost of new fabric. So go forth, recover, and sit pretty!


Bob Vila Radio: Small Yards

With smart planning, even a small yard can be beautiful and functional. Find out how to make the most of your compact outdoor space.

A well-designed outdoor space is like having an extra room in the house. Even a small yard is a great treasure, but it takes smart landscaping to make it functional and beautiful. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your small yard.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON SMALL SPACE YARDS or read the text below:

Small Yards

Photo: shutterstock.com

First, keep the space open and uncluttered. Avoid privacy fencing, opting instead for soft boundary-setters like plantings and hedges. This will keep your yard from feeling hemmed in.

By the same token, choose small-scale, unobtrusive furnishings and forgo large structures like pergolas. Make use of all the square footage; even a neglected side yard can become a quiet dining area or a cozy reading nook.

To create a unified design and keep clutter to a minimum, establish a single focal point—a fountain, tree, or sculpture. Meanwhile, select furnishings that do double duty. For example, choose benches that provide both seating and storage and if possible, incorporate seating into hardscaping like retaining walls.

Container gardening and vertical plantings are particularly suited to small spaces. Flowers, vegetables, and even small trees can thrive in containers and create a beautiful mix of textures, colors, and heights. Even better, they can be moved around to create smaller “rooms” in your yard. Hanging baskets, trellises with trailing greenery, and planters mounted on walls all draw the eye up and bring interest and depth to small spaces.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


Bob Vila Radio: Tips on Cutting Plywood

Though plywood can be difficult to cut cleanly, these tips on sawing plywood can help you get the job done well, with a minimum of hassle.

Plywood is a versatile product great for lots of building projects. Cutting it can be a little tricky, however, as the edges are prone to little tears and nicks. Here are a couple of tips to help you get cleaner cuts in plywood.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON CUTTING PLYWOOD or read the text below:

Sawing Plywood

Photo: shutterstock.com

The most important thing you can do to get a clean cut is choose the right blade. If you’re using a jigsaw, you need a fine blade specifically designed for plywood or laminate. For circular saws, get a good carbide-tip blade. And for table saws or miter saws, you’ll need a blade with 80 teeth per inch (TPI).

Second, understand how your saw works. The tearout usually happens on the side of the cutting action. So if you’re working with a jigsaw, which cuts on the upstroke, place your plywood with the good side face down. Also place the plywood face down if you’re using a circular saw or miter saw. For a table saw, flip the plywood over so it’s face up.

Whatever saw you’re using, give the plywood plenty of support. Those big sheets can be unwieldy, and an unexpected shift can cause chips. Finally, try running painter’s tape along the length you intend to cut, and score your cut line with a razor first.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.