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Make One Minor Change to Get Major Curb Appeal

A new door gives your facade a facelift, while improving security and energy efficiency. Plus, recent data suggests the replacement all but pays for itself upon resale. So what are you waiting for?

Photo: masonite.com

When Remodeling magazine last published its annual Cost vs. Value Report, many were surprised to learn that, of all the many different home improvements one might undertake, front door replacement offers the greatest return on investment. Upon resale, homeowners recoup a whopping 97 percent of the project cost. We already knew what a difference replacing the entry door could make for a home’s curb appeal. Now we know that the upgrade virtually pays for itself.

As the first and last thing a houseguest sees on his visit—and as a familiar, inevitable part of the homeowner’s daily life—entry doors play a pivotal role in design. Therefore, for a job of such modest proportions, front door replacement delivers outsized benefits. Besides the immediate boost to curb appeal, a new door can also bring enhanced security and even superior energy efficiency, assuming the previous installation, like many old doors, had become drafty over the years.

There are a dizzying array of doors on the market today. To narrow the options, anyone wading into the ocean of options can do well by focusing their search on warranty-backed doors from long-established manufacturers. Masonite fulfills both criteria. In operation since 1925, the Tampa, Florida-based company offers steel, wood, and fiberglass doors in styles to suit any preference or spec. Best of all, some Masonite doors are guaranteed by warranties for up to 25 years. In fact, Masonite steel and fiberglass doors feature a limited lifetime warranty when purchased at The Home Depot, making the retail chain your best bet for value.

Photo: masonite.com

Choosing a Masonite door can begin at The Home Depot, or it can begin online with Masonite Max. Offered jointly by The Home Depot and Masonite, the easy- and fun-to-use Web tool guides you through designing an entry door that perfectly matches both your practical needs and your aesthetic tastes.

When you’re finished, Masonite Max provides the name and model number of your chosen product, making your purchase from The Home Depot fast and hassle-free. And iff desired, you can even use Masonite Max to schedule an in-store appointment with a Home Depot customer service agent. He or she not only handles your checkout, but can also answer questions about working with Masonite doors.

If you’re a contractor, then, perhaps better than anyone, you know the old adage is true: Time is money. What you may not know is that in addition to carrying the full suite of Masonite entry doors, The Home Depot offers many appealing conveniences and services especially for its professional customers.

For starters, there’s the Pro App, which gives you up-to-the-minute info on what’s in and out of stock at your local store—definitely a time-saver. The Pro App also gives you electronic receipts, which you can quickly and easily forward to clients. That, too, saves you a step and frees up your time for other things.

In addition, purchases of Masonite doors—or any other tools or materials—can be charged to a Revolving Charge Account, which makes bookkeeping as easy as it possibly can be. Once you’re set up, the account allows you to carry a balance, make low monthly payments, and enjoy itemized billing.

Commercial Credit Accounts are yet another convenience for contractors at The Home Depot. These help small business owners by enabling them to issue cards to employees, track expenditures online, and set up PO numbers. You can go back to focusing on being a contractor, not an accountant!

For high-quality doors in almost every imaginable style and material, with unparalleled support for those in the building trades, Masonite and The Home Depot are the doorway to value and satisfaction.

This post has been brought to you by Masonite. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


Bob Vila Radio: Make Plywood More Portable

Plywood may be cheap, but it sure isn't easy—to carry, that is. If you're working solo, these two tricks can help you get a handle.

Though plywood is a versatile and affordable material, ideal or at least serviceable for hundreds of uses, it’s not the most convenient thing to heft from one place to another.

How to Carry Plywood

Photo: shutterstock.com

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

Why is it so cumbersome? Mainly it’s because plywood typically comes in four-by-eight-foot sheets. Depending on the thickness, a sheet might weigh anywhere from 25 to 85 pounds. Bottom line: Unless you have really long arms, plywood is hard to carry. Fortunately, there are tricks that can help you get a handle.

First, position the plywood with the long edge down. Tie about 20 feet of rope into a loop and slip each end of the loop around the two bottom corners of the plywood. Reach over the edge of the plywood, grab the middle part of the loop, and lift. That’s a good way to get you and your load from point A to point B.

Another trick is to lift the plywood slightly with one hand and, with the other, hook a claw hammer under the plywood about midway along the edge. The hammer extends your reach and, again, you’ve got yourself an instant handle!

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 60 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.


5 Things to Do with… Matchboxes

Even with no matches left, a matchbox has at least one use left. Check out these five creative ideas for making these mementos actually useful again.

Before antismoking campaigns and the advent of disposable lighters, matchboxes and matchbooks were very common. They were everywhere. Today, matchboxes are, most of all, mementos—of that earlier era, maybe, or of a memorable dining experience. Rarely do they do anything more than sit idly within a box of keepsakes. But with the help of a few basic household supplies, you can make those matchboxes useful again. Scroll down now for five clever repurposing ideas!

 

1. STAY IN FOCUS

Matchbox Crafts - Pinhole Camera

Photo: matchboxpinhole.com

Believe it or not, you can make a pinhole camera out of a matchbox, and it’s relatively simple. This type of camera lacks a lens, instead capturing images quite naturally through a tiny—you guessed it—pinhole. To make your own, follow instruction at Matchbox Pinhole. (Yes, this technique has its very own Web site!)

 

2. SEW ON THE GO

Matchbox Crafts - Sewing Kit

Photo: aplacetolaymythread.etsy.com

Just the right size for travel, a matchbox can house everything you need for an emergency sewing kit. Seriously, you’d be surprised by how many sewing staples can fit inside something so small! For fixing wardrobe malfunctions on the go, or as a gift for a globe-trotting friend, these kits are handy and downright adorable.

 

3. TAKE NOTE

Matchbox Crafts - Notepads

Photo: flickr.com

Super simple to craft, these little notepads are 99 percent creativity, 1 percent matchbook. Once you’ve removed the matches themselves, collect about 15 squares of thin paper, cutting them to fit. Staple the paper stack into the slot where the matches were, and you’ve got a mini pad for jotting down impromptu notes-to-self.

 

4. MAKE IT IN A FLASH

Matchbox Crafts - Flashlight

Photo: instructables.com

Even after the last match has been lit, the empty matchbook can muster a glow—as a DIY flashlight. First, pierce holes in the matchbook for two tiny LED lights you can buy at a home center. Next, fit the LED wires through the holes, connecting them to the 3-volt battery tucked inside. Instructables has the step-by-step.

 

5. WRAP IT UP

Matchbox Crafts - Gift Boxes

Photo: wikihow.com

For gifts of jewelry or folded currency, wrapped matchboxes are the perfect packaging. The key is to cut the wrapping paper slightly wider than the box, so the paper flaps can be glued down flat. Once you get the hang of it, why not wrap up an array of matchboxes to hang as decorations? Visit WikiHow for the tutorial.


The Little-Known Benefits of Pipe Insulation

Properly insulating your plumbing pipes has benefits beyond keeping the pipes from freezing. Read on to find out how else pipe insulation can improve your home's efficiency and safety.

Photo: shutterstock.com

If you know anything at all about pipe insulation, you know that it goes a long way toward preventing frozen pipes. That’s true: Pipe insulation keeps the water in your plumbing system from turning to ice and expanding, in turn bursting the pipes and causing extensive (and expensive) damage. But pipe insulation also performs several far less dramatic roles in the home. These not only help the homeowner save money on utility bills, but also make everyday life a little easier.

Minimizing Heat Gain and Loss
Among the unsung benefits of pipe insulation, its ability to minimize heat gain and loss may be the most important. As water travels along the plumbing lines in a home without pipe insulation, hot water tends to lose heat and cold water tends to gain heat. Introduce pipe insulation, and you greatly diminish these otherwise inevitable inefficiencies. So in the case of a hot-water pipe, it may not sound like a big deal for the plumbing run not to lose heat, but the benefits are very real: You get lower monthly energy bills, and you don’t need to wait as long for the hot water to reach the fixtures in your kitchen or bathrooms.

Controlling Condensation
When the surfaces of plumbing pipes are cooler than the surrounding air, insulation helps control the condensation that, if left unchecked, would slowly corrode the pipes and their fittings, eventually leading to a massive failure. Though condensation may seem like a remote concern, it’s not at all uncommon, particularly when cold-water lines come into contact with warm, humid air. Special vapor barrier-wrapped pipe insulation prevents warm air from reaching the pipes.

One other fringe benefit of pipe insulation: It not only protects pipes, it protects people too—from injuries that can be caused by contact with very hot or very cold piping.

Photo: supplyhouse.com

Selecting Your Insulation
There are several types of pipe insulation, each made of a different material and capable of insulating to a different degree. Some are more suitable for hot-water applications, while others incorporate the vapor barrier necessary for controlling condensation along a cold-water line. The main options include:

Conventional foam insulation: This features a slit on its side that makes it easy to fit over existing pipes. Once it’s in place, it’s a good idea to tape the slits shut so as to enhance the product’s insulating capability.

Self-sealing foam insulation: Unlike conventional foam insulation for pipes, the self-sealing variety features an adhesive along its slit. Remove the tape, press the adhesive strips together, and you’re done.

Spray foam insulation: Typically installed by professionals equipped with pressurized containers, spray foam pipe insulation excels where there’s little space between the water pipes and exterior walls.

Fiberglass pipe covers: This type of hinged, paper-coated rigid fiberglass insulation is most often used where pipe temperatures are unusually high, because fiberglass tends to resist heat quite well.

Dealing with Asbestos
Even today, some older homes still have pipe insulation that contains asbestos. Particularly if it’s disturbed and its fine fibers become airborne, asbestos-laden pipe insulation can present a serious health hazard. Asbestos insulation is not always easy to identify, says Dan O’Brian, a technical specialist with SupplyHouse.com, an online retailer of plumbing, heating, and HVAC products. “Asbestos pipe insulation has a distinct corrugated look,” he says. “And if you are suspicious you might have asbestos in your pipes or anywhere else in your home, make sure you consult a professional for removal.”

Cost vs. Benefit
Is pipe insulation ever a bad idea? “The only case I can think of where pipe insulation would be a bad idea,” O’Brian says, “would be on radiant heating or cooling loops, where insulation would actively work against the design of the system.” So in all but a couple of circumstances, installing pipe insulation offers energy savings and peace of mind—but does the benefit outweigh the cost? That might depend on whether or not you hire a contractor. Doing the job yourself—it’s usually not hard to tackle—tips the balance sheet in your favor, while depending on where you live, it may or may not be worth it to hire help.

Know the Law!
In many freeze-prone regions of the country, pipe insulation is not only a good idea, it’s mandated by the municipal building codes. If you have an older house and are planning to upgrade your plumbing, be sure to check the local specifications to find out what’s required—and what’s not.

 

This post has been brought to you by Supply House. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


Before & After: An 80s Living Room Rockets Forward

Stuck with limited lighting and excessive pastel left over from the previous owners, these Canadian homeowners rolled up their sleeves to DIY a more modern living room. Step inside to see the dramatic makeover.

Living Room Makeover

Photo: theuncommonlaw.ca

Since 2011, Becki Peckham and Chris Nicholas have been hard at work remodeling their home in eastern Canada, all the while blogging their experience at The Uncommon Law. When they began work, the house had a long way to go before it would reflect the couple’s modern, unconventional design sensibilities. The living room, in particular, shows what Becki and Chris can do when they flex their creative muscles—and their actual muscles, since they did almost everything themselves. Today, the living room channels the couple’s shared love of photography and film, from the moody lighting to the vintage camera display. ”We even made backlit light boxes, which feature actual X-rays of an old 35mm camera and Super 8 camera,” Becki says. Overall, Becki thinks the living room makeover, represents “sort of a fusion of both of our professions, photography and radiology.” Scroll down to see the dramatic difference that DIY dedication can make!

Living Room Makeover - Room Complete

Photo: theuncommonlaw.ca

What was the space like before you got started?
It was very ’80s. When we first saw it, the previous owner had furniture there—and the layout wasn’t ideal. The room is quite large, and the furniture was all pushed against the walls, leaving a large, empty space in the center. There were no ceiling lights, and the trim and wall color were pretty builder-basic.

Sounds like a pretty blank slate. What was your end goal for the redesign?
We wanted to create a moody/loungy media room that was both modern and stylish. We had actually found an ad in a magazine for the company Minotti and fell in love with the style: a dark room which contained a light gray couch and dark wood/walnut accents. That’s where the initial design inspiration came from.

Living Room Makeover - Window Treatments and Sectional

Photo: theuncommonlaw.ca

What was the biggest challenge? Did you find yourself having to make any compromises along the way?
We definitely had a few challenges with this space. Figuring out how to drop the ceiling and create a reveal to hide LED mood lighting took a bit of planning. Then having the plastering done only to find a leak was very trying.

But the slat wall was probably the most challenging, because of all the work it took hand-sanding, pretreating, staining and clear-coating the wood. There were over 640 linear feet of wooden 1x2s that required manual preparation.

As for compromises, Chris and I originally wanted a propane fireplace, but it was really out of our budget. We ended up settling on an ethanol fireplace; it had a similar feel but was much more affordable.

Living Room Makeover - Gas Fireplace

Photo: theuncommonlaw.ca

You did a lot with the room: built a slat wall, installed heavy-duty floating shelves, mounted an ethanol fireplace, even lowered the ceiling. Tell us a little bit about the thought process behind these choices.
We wanted different parts of the room to have different functionality. Using a sectional and adding the floating shelf/desk on the back wall helped with this. The fireplace wall with bench underneath acts as its own little area as well.

The media wall started out as a simple feature wall that we were going to paint a different color. This evolved to wallpaper, then wall tiles, then finally to the idea of a full-blown wooden slat treatment. Our ideas always seem to snowball until we realize we’re knee-deep into a project that’s 50 times the work of the original idea!

The ceiling was stucco and we were going to just drywall over it, but Chris had the idea of recessing LEDs around the edge of the ceiling in a reveal. We scraped the stucco from around the perimeter of the room, strapped out the old ceiling, installed the new drywall so it stopped about 1.5 inches from the wall, and added J-trim for a nice clean edge when we plastered.

Which piece of the room are you most proud of, and why?
I think we are both most proud of the slat wall. We love the way it looks, especially at night, and we get a lot of compliments on it. We also have seen a few people making their own, so the fact that we’ve inspired others enough for them to take on such a hellish task is flattering. If you consider the adjacent staircase part of the living room, then the DIY frameless glass rails are also something we’re pretty proud of, if only because so many people told us it couldn’t be done.

Living Room Makeover - Slat Wall

Photo: theuncommonlaw.ca

Without a doubt, a fresh coat really helped set a tone for the rest of your room. Any painting tips that you swear by?
Paint can make all the difference in a room. The plasterer we use (when we’re too lazy to do it ourselves) taught us a few tricks that have changed the way we paint—like back rolling. After initially rolling on about three roller widths of paint, go back and re-roll over the section you just painted, only rolling top to bottom. It gives a perfect, uniform finish. Also, quickly give the wall a light sanding between coats of paint to knock down any rough spots on the wall.

As for paint choice itself, we are huge fans of matte paint. Maybe not the best choice for families with kids’ hands touching the walls all the time, but the matte finish gives the walls a flat, creamy look, which we love. It also hides any imperfections in the plastering.

Looking at it all now, how has this makeover changed the way the space is used? What needs did it meet for you and Chris?
This is our day-to-day room. We hang out here, watch movies here, and sometimes eat meals or work here. It’s really a multipurpose space. We didn’t want to have a room that wouldn’t get used much, so we made sure to load it up with things that would draw us to the space. Having the built-in shelf on the back wall double as a desk, for example, gives Chris a place to do his studies or a place for us to sit and write the blog.

Living Room Makeover - Wall Hangings and Shelving

Photo: theuncommonlaw.ca


Bob Vila Radio: Fixing a Broken Window Pane

At one time or another, most homeowners must deal with a broken window pane. Save the cost of a contractor and make the repair yourself—here's how.

Has a pint-sized baseball player in your neighborhood recently hit a home run through your bedroom window? Here are some tips for fixing it.

How to Replace a Window Pane

Photo: shutterstock.com

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Listen to BOB VILA ON REPLACING A WINDOW PANE or read the text below:

Once are wearing gloves and goggles, remove the broken shards by pulling them toward you. That way, if a shard breaks, the splinters are sent safely away from you.

Next, scrape and sand the notch of the sash where the new pane is going to go. Then run a bead of caulk around the notch, not only to provide a cushion for the glass, but also to help make the window weather-tight.

For help in positioning the pane of glass, fold a short length of duct tape in the middle, forming a tab. Now stick the tape onto the glass. That’ll function as a temporary handle.

Once you have the new pane in place, open your glazing compound, remove a lump with your putty knife, and roll it on a flat surface until it looks like a length of rope. Set it next to the edge of the glass and use your fingers to smooth it out.

Once you add a few more lengths of glazing compound around the window, you’ll be done… except for a little sanding and a coat or two of paint!

Bob Vila Radio is a daily radio spot carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


The Pros and Cons of Softwood Flooring

If you're in the market for a wood floor in a low-traffic room, don't ignore the rustic charm and extremely low cost of softwoods like pine.

Softwood Flooring - Kitchen Installation

Photo: kaplanthompson.com

Trees are classified as either hardwood or softwood according to the structure of their seeds. And while almost all hardwoods are, in fact, hard, softwoods are not really soft; they’re simply more susceptible to dents and dings. Impervious to such incidental damage, durable hardwoods have become virtually synonymous with wood flooring. And it’s undeniable that for high-traffic rooms, particularly in homes with children or pets, hardwood makes the superior floor choice. But due to their low cost and rustic look, there are certain situations in which softwoods—pine, spruce, and fir, for example—might be used effectively as flooring.

Take Your Pick
While the many varieties of hardwoods spoil homeowners with choice, softwoods encompass a category unto themselves. Pine is probably the softwood most frequently used in flooring, but it’s not the only one. Fir, cypress, cedar, spruce, and hemlock are other commonly available softwoods, and you will find additional options that are unique to your geographical region. Best of all, no matter which softwood you choose, it’s bound to cost less than any hardwood. For example, you can typically get pine for half the cost of oak, perhaps the most ubiquitous hardwood flooring material. And many cases, pine costs even less than vinyl flooring!

Besides affordability, another reason to like softwoods is that they’re more environmentally friendly than slower-growing hardwoods. Because many types of softwood grow quite quickly, they lend themselves to sustainable farming and harvesting. Like bamboo, softwoods can be considered a renewable resource.

Softwood Flooring - Hallway Installation

Photo: frankshirleyarchitects.com

The Cons
There are degrees of resiliency among softwoods, but it can be generally stated that in comparison with hardwoods, softwoods are more vulnerable to dents, dings, and scratches. In a kitchen where canned goods might fall from a countertop, or in a living room where the floor might be subject to a guest’s high heels, softwoods would inevitably—and sooner rather than later—begin to show wear.

That said, the durability of a floor depends not only the species of wood from which it’s made, but also on its finish. If you stain a softwood floor and then seal it properly with a few applications of polyurethane, chances are it’s going to stand up fairly well. In a room with only a modest amount of activity—a finished attic, for example—softwood flooring could be expected to last for many years.

Some folks don’t even see dents and dings as imperfections, but rather as valuable contributions to the character of a floor. Such homeowners might even purposely distress or antique a new floor, wanting it to look older than it really is. Those whose style preferences run to the rough and rugged may very well find pine more desirable than a highly resilient hardwood like hickory.

Know Your Knots
If you walk into the flooring section of your local home center, you might not actually find any softwood floors for sale. Except for certain types of pine, softwoods are rarely marketed as flooring products.

For the best deals, inquire at a nearby sawmill or lumberyard. Know that for any softwood species, there are different grades of quality. Grades 1 and 2 are most suitable for flooring, though you can save even more money by choosing a lower-grade wood, if you can live with, and love, the knottier material. If you want to conceal the nails that secure the floor, purchase boards with tongue-and-groove edges.

Finishing
Whereas hardwood floors often come prefinished, softwood hardly ever does. That can be a good thing, though, since it affords you the opportunity to finish the wood exactly as you’d like.

There are lots of options when it comes to finishing, including stains, varnish, and tung oil. Or, if you like the natural look, you can always leave the wood unfinished—after all, that’s how people did it for hundreds of years. To avoid problems with moisture, however, it’s recommended that you apply multiple coats of polyurethane, lightly sanding between each coat. After all, even though you’re paying considerably less for a softwood floor, you’re not going to save any money if you need to replace it right away!


Genius! Hamster Wheel Desk

You've heard of standing desks, but what about walking desks? Maybe this one-of-a-kind DIY desk is the piece that any office worker needs to lose that extra 5 pounds—all while answering email and meeting deadlines.

DIY Desk - Hamster wheel

There are DIY desks, and then there are D-I-Y desks. We learned that when we came across this so-called “hamster wheel standing desk” co-created by Autodesk’s Pier 9 Artist-in-Residence Robb Godshaw and Instructables developer Will Doenlen. It certainly looks like it’s fun to use—but why did they do it? We asked the makers to share.

As Will put it, “Standing desks are becoming more and more common in companies across the United States, but why stop there? We know that standing is better than sitting, but why not go the extra mile and make a desk you can walk on to keep active?”

But building the walk-able desk wasn’t a cake walk. “Cutting large curves from wood is difficult to do precisely,” said Robb. “Luckily, our employer has a world-class work shop on San Francisco’s Pier 9 that has advanced computer controlled cutting tools that made it quite trivial.”

In fact, Autodesk’s Pier 9 sounds like the place to be for the pro DIYer. According to Robb, “The facilities and tools here are only trumped by the incredible community of brilliant and generous makers of every kind” who “come together to make incredible things everyday.” We’re glad their creative ingenuity cooked up a project as cool as this one.

The desk looks truly amazing—but we had to ask. Does anyone actually get any mileage out of it? Will says yes, but admits that sometimes he’ll “switch to using a normal desk to rest when I get tired of walking.”

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- (4) Sheets of ¾” Plywood
- (4) Skateboard wheels
- (2) Pipes
- 240 wood screws
- Pint of glue
- Waterjet cutter (or jigsaw)
- Table saw
- Chop saw
- Clamps

STEP 1

design - hamster wheel desk

First, design your wheel. Things that are made to fit people are subject to lots of careful consideration. Ergonomics and safety are very important to any furniture project.

We considered adding in brakes but decided against it in order to really force the productivity out of the desk user. In the end, we decided on a wheel 80″ in diameter that would be supported by a 24″ wide base that contained a set of four skateboard wheels on which the wheel would rest. This design allows fluid rotation without requiring an axle for the wheel.

We already had a standing desk that fit through the wheel, so it was just a matter of avoiding interference and leaving enough room for a human.

The wheel was designed using Autodesk Inventor over the course of a few hours. See the files here.

STEP 2

We used a waterjet cutter to cut the arcs from four sheets of plywood, but this project could certainly be completed with ordinary power tools.

The arc pieces are the hardest to make, as their precision is key to smooth operation of the wheel. A carefully measured string used as a compass could be used to draw the arcs on a piece of plywood, which could be cut with a jigsaw. A hand router with a template and a trim-bit would make duplication fairly straight forward.

However, we both work at Instructables HQ at Autodesk’s Pier 9, and have access to a large OMAX waterjet cutter. It’s a computer-controlled machine that uses a high pressure waterjet to cut through any material, as long as it is less than 6″ thick. Wood, any metal, glass, stone—any material into any shape. You might think it crazy to cut wood with water, but it saved us many hours and saved a lot of wood because we could nest the parts within 1/8″ of each other. Plus, the precision made for smooth rolling and perfect registration of the stacked pieces upon assembly.

STEP 3

Hamster standing desk - cutting

We used a table saw and chop saw to cut out the remaining slats of wood used to span the two rings of the wheel. There are 60-something slats in total. We used plywood because we had it on hand. 1″x6″ pine would work great and look better, but cost more.

STEP 4

Hamster Standing Desk - Rings

Lay out the rings. The wheel consists of two wheel rings with some 60-odd plywood slats between the rims.

STEP 5

Hamster Standing Desk - glue up

We then glued the layers of each ring together, staggering the two layers by 60° to maximize overlap and stability. Initial clamping was done with ¼”-20 cap screws and T-nuts, followed by about 20 clamps. Glue was wiggled out liberally, spread with a piece of paper, then clamped to kingdom come.

Pro tip: A sign of a good glue-up is squeeze-out, a small amount of glue emerging along the glue seam indicating complete dispersion of glue.

STEP 6

Hamster wheel standing desk - base

The base consists of two large, hot-dog shaped pieces of wood, each of which holds two skateboard wheels. The two plates are held together with 5/16″ threaded rods inside steel pipes to pull the plywood sides together. The length of the pipe is key, and had to be changed a few times. Too short and the wheel won’t spin, and too long and it wiggles too much.

The skateboard wheels were attached to the base using 5/16 cap screws with two fender washers and two locknuts. As shown in the image, the first locknut should be super-tight, and the second a bit loose to avoid damage to the wheel.

STEP 7

Hamster wheel standing desk - test

Once the base was assembled, we tested out the action of the rings on the base to ensure they spun freely and didn’t hit the pipes or catch on jagged edges.

STEP 8

hamster wheel standing desk - attaching

Satisfied that the rings could spin on the base, we then screwed the slats onto the wheel. This part was tricky—we had to redo it several times since we found the distance between the two rings of the wheel would creep upwards or downwards as we attached more and more slats. The solution was to screw in a couple of pioneer slats at strategic 90° intervals along the rings in order to maintain a fixed distance between the rings as we attached the slats.

It took five of us working together for several hours. We went through approximately 250 screws total, or about every screw we could find in the wood shop.

Did you like this project? Then check out some of Robb’s other work, like this set of steel clamps in the shape of the alphabet, or find even more pictures of this one right here.


Bob Vila Radio: A Trick for Splinter-less Cuts in Plywood

You don't need fine cabinetmaking tools to get clean cuts in plywood. You just need a little know-how.

If you’re planning to cut plywood, here are a few points to keep in mind. Cutting plywood usually creates a splintered edge on one side of the sheet. That’s no big deal if your project requires only one side of the sheet to be splinter-free.

How to Cut Plywood

Photo: shutterstock.com

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

Which side will the splinters be on? That depends on the type of saw you’re using to make the cut. Generally speaking, radial arm saws and table saws produce splinters on the top side of the sheet, while saber saws and circular saws splinter the wood on the bottom. If your choice of tools is a muscle-powered hand saw, expect splinters on the top.

But what if you need both sides of the sheet to be free of splinters? Your best bet is to use the sharpest, stiffest knife you can find to make deep scores—on both sides of the wood—along the lines of the intended cuts. One caution: You’ll need to measure carefully to ensure your score lines end up in exactly the same place on both sides of the sheet. As always with power tools, make sure you don protective glasses and gloves before you start your cuts.

Bob Vila Radio is a daily radio spot carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


Weekend Projects: 5 Easy DIY Candle Holders

What comes first, the candle or the holder? We bet that if you weren't already planning on it, these easy projects might very well inspire you to light a few candles this wintry weekend.

In any given year, there are probably only a handful of occasions that merit hauling out the formal candlesticks from their place within the dining room sideboard. For the quiet evenings and casual get-togethers that fill the rest of the calendar, candle holders ensure, not only that the wick and wax burn safely, but also that your votives, pillars, and tealights look beautiful, lit or unlit. As decorative accents, candle holders are among the many little details that help make a house a home. And while we love how they provide that finishing touch, we also love that DIY candle holders are so easy to make. Here are five favorite designs.

 

1. GO AU NATUREL

DIY Candle Holders - Birch

Photo: oleanderandpalm.com

As part of a natural tablescape or set inside a nonworking fireplace, birch-carved DIY candle holders bring the beauty of nature indoors. To make your own, simply flatten the ends on a cut-to-size log, and with a 1-1/2″ bit, drill a hole to accommodate a small, shallow candle. For instructions, visit Oleander and Palm.

 

2. MAKE CONCRETE PLANS

DIY Candle Holder - Concrete

Photo: homemade-modern.com

After you’ve completed your concrete countertop or concrete walkway, use any extra material to create modern, minimalist DIY candle holders. Though intimidating to the uninitiated, basic concrete projects like this one are just-add-water affairs. See how easy it can be; watch the video on Homemade Modern.

 

3. BREAK THE MOLD

DIY Candle Holder - Clay

Photo: gatheringbeauty.com

From Gathering Beauty, here are DIY candle holders made from a completely unexpected material: air-hardening clay. Mold the clay with your fingers, using a knife to facet the gem-like edges. Set a tea light into the top, and then as the last step, sit back and wait for your creation to dry—that’s right, no kiln needed!

 

4. PLUMBING PIPES

DIY Candle Holder - Plumbing Pipes

Photo: endlessacresfarmtiques.com

Kelly at Endless Acres Farmtiques set out to make DIY candle holders using only pipe fittings from the local hardware store. The result couldn’t be more dissimilar from traditional, fancypants candlesticks. Besides combining the pieces into your own creative assembly, all you need to do is spray-paint the metal.

 

5. ON A ROLL

DIY Candle Holder - Rolled Paper

Photo: instructables.com

Magazines, catalogs, brochures and leaflets get a second life when folded into cylinders and glued side by side. Together, they form a column that can support even a bulky, heavier-than-usual candle. Be careful, though: You should never leave a candle unattended, particularly not one resting on a paper holder!