Welcome to Bob Vila

A Man Who Remakes Vintage Relics into Modern Marvels

See how one man's light bulb moments transform an eclectic assortment of unused housewares into brilliant lighting displays for today's one-of-a-kind home.

Stonehill Design - Jason Aleksa

Photo: stonehill-design.com

Jason Aleksa is no stranger to the shop. His grandfather founded a machine shop in the 1960s, which his father then took over until retirement. Growing up, Jason spent a lot of time sweeping the floors and watching his dad pull white-hot pieces of metal out of the furnaces. As he got older, though, he started making things for himself. Fast-forward to today: The 33-year-old now runs a small business in Fairfield, CT, called Stonehill Design, where he crafts unique home goods that boast both history and heart.


Stonehill Design - Fan Lamp

Photo: stonehill-design.com

How did you get started making these home accents?
I’ve always made things myself. We had a lot of tools—a milling machine, band saw, and drill press—in the shop. Having those tools available just makes it easier. When I was 14, my dad and I bought a 1968 Volkswagen Beetle with the intention of fixing it up and that being my first car…and he’s still working on it!

You can pick up a piece of furniture in a store going $1000, or you could spend a few days, buy some materials, and make something of better quality yourself. That idea was instilled in me at a young age. It’s not always about how expensive things are, or how fancy it is. If you can make it yourself, that’s more important than how much something costs. You know where it came from, you know what went into it and how hard it was to make.


Stonehill Design - Antenna Rotor Lamp

Photo: stonehill-design.com

Why do you choose to upcycle old items?
I make original pieces, but the majority of what I do is repurposing. I’ve always had an appreciation for the amount of work that went into making some of these things. Take an old 1920s radio speaker, for example—you just don’t find things like that anymore. I could probably reproduce that somehow and make something that looks like it, but these things are still out there. You can go find them. I think that’s half the fun: poking around in a flea market and finding something that you never would have thought to use.


Stonehill Design - Starry Night Lamp

Photo: stonehill-design.com

Where do you find the vintage components you use for your projects?
I have a few different places. There are some antique shops that I frequent, with owners who always know the certain things I’m interested in. But sometimes people will just bring me things. They’ll be cleaning out a garage and they’ll say, “Oh, I found this. Do you want it?” There’s a whole network out there to find what you’re looking for.

Granted, some of the pieces are not very desirable in their current state. They’ve far outlived their purpose. Nobody needs an antenna rotor control anymore, but 50 years ago somebody put a lot of thought into the design of this thing. And then over those 50 years somebody saved it, packed it away in an attic, and kept it in really nice condition. It’s kind of neat to take something like that and make it into a piece that someone else will appreciate for another 50 years.


Stonehill Design - Gumball Machine Lamp

Photo: stonehill-design.com

I’m especially curious about the gumball machine lamp. Tell me a little about that one.
I’ve made a few of those. The original one came from an antique shop out on Cape Code, where my parents have retired. It was in working condition, and I thought that it’d be awesome if I could figure out a way to remake it and have it still operate.

So it’s both a functional light and a functional gumball machine. I created a lens by sandwiching antique marbles in between two panes of plexiglass in the front. Then I put an LED bulb in the back and managed to mount and wire it around all the mechanical workings of the gumball machine so that it could still work.

At the first show that I displayed it, some kids came up to it with nickels. I had forgotten to put anything in there because I didn’t even think someone would want to use it, so I had to disappoint a few children.


Stonehill Design - Typewriter Lamp

Photo: stonehill-design.com

Have there been any designs you’ve made that just didn’t work?
I definitely have. Usually when I find myself struggling, I just set it down and work on something else. I’ve bought pieces where I think, ‘Oh, I’ll totally use this.’ Then I get it home and really look at it, and nothing comes to mind. So I set it aside for a while. I’ll continue to subconsciously work on it in my head a little, though, until one day when know exactly what I should do. You can’t just force your way into the design; you have to let it come to you every once in a while.


Stonehill Design - Crosley Dynacone Radio Speaker Lamp

Photo: stonehill-design.com

What’s next for you?
I have a full-time job, so I’m creating on the side. The ultimate goal is for this to become my full-time gig. I do a lot of shows, so I get the opportunity to interact with people and see their reactions to the things I’ve created—that really keeps me wanting to make things.


To learn more about Jason’s work, visit the Stonehill Design website.

Create Your Best-Ever Holiday Home with Customizable Climate Control

With the holidays approaching, it's time to get ready for friends and family who will no doubt stop by for joyful celebrations or even overnight visits. This year, as part of your preparations, give some thought to your guests' comfort by installing a heating system that can accommodate a wide range of temperature preferences.

Zoned Cooling and Heating - Kitchen Unit

Photo: Josh Pabst

You are reading one installment in a 10-part series devoted to exploring Mitsubishi Electric ductless heating and cooling. See all.

It’s going to be a busy holiday season. Cousins are driving in from out of town, and grandparents are staying for at least a week, possibly longer. You want everyone to have a great time, so you’re going all out: you’re cleaning the house, sprucing up the guest rooms and making your home look beautiful. Additionally, you’re pouring over recipes to ensure that every meal not only tastes delicious, but also appeals to your guests’ diverse tastes. In short, you are doing everything within your control to make sure your guests are comfortable. But there’s one thing you may not have considered yet: With so many people under the same roof, and with each person likely favoring a different temperature, is everyone going to be truly comfortable?

Zoned Cooling and Heating - Dining Room Unit

Photo: Michael Lee

Having pondered just about everything else, why hadn’t you thought about accommodating your guests’ varying temperature preferences? The reason may be, quite simply, that you didn’t know you could. For decades, the average cooling and heating system has taken a one-size-fits-all approach, with one thermostat controlling the temperature of every room in the house. Who knows how many disagreements have arisen in households whose members couldn’t agree on a single temperature—all because of that one limitation? Fortunately, cooling and heating have advanced by leaps and bounds in recent years. Thanks to the zoned systems pioneered by Mitsubishi Electric US, Inc. Cooling & Heating (Mitsubishi Electric), you can put an end to thermostat wars once and for all!

Of all the features Mitsubishi Electric systems deliver, one particular capability could have the greatest impact on the comfort of your holiday guests—zoning. In homes with traditional cooling and heating systems, only some people will be truly comfortable at any given time. Mitsubishi Electric, however, enables you to establish multiple zones. Each zone, whether it comprises of one room, a set of rooms, or an entire floor, can be controlled independently of the others. So, while you’re cooking Thanksgiving dinner or a Christmas feast in the oven-warmed kitchen, you can remain cool by keeping the room’s temperature relatively low. Meanwhile, in the living room, where the grandparents are being entertained by your children, you can set the temperature a few degrees higher. Indeed, everyone can enjoy his or her ideal environment.

The ability to select different temperatures in different zones ensures a higher level of comfort, but that’s not all. At a time of year when family finances are often strained, zoning provides another crucial benefit—an energy-saving opportunity. Because traditional systems operate in all-or-nothing fashion, one-zone climate control can’t capitalize on these same opportunities. To have cooling or heating in any room, you must run the system (and pay for the energy consumed) in all rooms, even the unoccupied ones. Imagine if the same principle were applied to a home’s electrical system, and turning on one fixture meant turning on every light in the house. A setup like that would be extremely wasteful, not to mention inconvenient. With zoning, Mitsubishi Electric offers a sensible solution.

The precision afforded by Mitsubishi Electric means that you only pay for the climate comfort you need and use. For instance, on New Year’s Day, as the family sleeps late in the bedrooms upstairs, you can set a lower-than-usual temperature for the spaces on the ground floor. After all, if the living room and kitchen are vacant, why spend the money to make them toasty warm? Later on, when household activity moves downstairs, you can cut back on heating the now-empty bedrooms. In this way, Mitsubishi Electric’s systems empower you to eliminate unnecessary energy consumption and, in the process, reduce your monthly utility bills. Room-by-room system management may seem straightforward and logical, but only zoning makes it possible. In the future, you may wonder how you ever lived without it!

Whereas traditional HVAC is inflexible, Mitsubishi Electric gives you virtually limitless options. If you choose, you can program the system to run on a customized schedule, making savings automatic and manual adjustments unnecessary. Of course, because schedules are prone to change—especially during the holiday season—the Mitsubishi Electric system easily accommodates changes of plan. Thanks to its kumo cloud™ app, you can configure the thermostat in your home from anywhere, via a computer or mobile device. Heading home from a chilly afternoon at the ice rink? Open the kumo cloud app on your smartphone and turn up the heat in advance of your arrival. With Mitsubishi Electric, you’re in complete control of creating a comfortable environment for you and your guests.

Happy holidays!

Zoned Cooling and Heating - Bedroom Unit

Photo: Mike Crews

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

Genius! The Trash Can Turkey Smoker

Sometimes holiday dinners can get a little bit boring, especially when Grandma breaks out that dry oven-roasted turkey again. Smoke the Thanksgiving competition in style with this clever DIY—and infuse your bird with flavor!

Homemade Smoker - Trash Can Conversion

Photo: instructables.com

Just like us, our ancestors loved a good cookout. As early as 500,000 years ago, the earliest humans whipped up dinner over an open fire. Over time, however, they discovered that smoking meats preserved them, and cooking methods improved to keep food fresh for longer. Today, the technique is more of a treat than a necessity, but this clever DIY smoker from Instructables member DrEel aims to change all that. For tender turkey with a smoky kick of flavor, forget the oven and bring that bird to the backyard!

With little more than an adventurous spirit, a circular grill grate, and a trash can—yes, you read that correctly—this maker went to work. As it turns out, a brand new garbage can works just like a large store-bought smoker, using convective heat from the smoking wood chips to cook and flavor your family-sized bird.

To transform the trash can into a full-fledged smoker, DrEel first drilled a series of holes to establish a few levels. Three equidistant holes about 8 inches below the rim (a little more than the height of the turkey) fit 3-inch-long bolts to support the grill grate and the bird. Several inches below that, four more holes and a pair of threaded rods suspend a foil dripping pan—a smart addition that prevents grease fires and minimizes any mess. At the bottom, one final hole is drilled to thread the electrical cord of a $10 electric hotplate to an outlet outside of the can.

Come Turkey Day, this Instructables user stationed the smokey contraption a safe distance from the house and neighbors using a high voltage extension cord. Inside the bottom of the can, the hotplate (set to the highest temperature) warms a small pan of water-soaked applewood chips. The smoke and heat circulates within the lidded smoker, cooking the brined turkey resting on the grate. A small BBQ thermometer punched through the lid reads the temperature inside over the course of the afternoon. Ultimately, the weight of your bird will determine cooking time. A rule of thumb: Give yourself at least 30 minutes for every pound of turkey to cook all the way through. (A 16-pound bird, then, will be table-ready in about 8 hours.) And remember, the best things in life are worth the wait—and a great meal is no exception.

Ready to get cooking with this holiday DIY? Just remember to take proper precautions. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby, and always opt for a stainless steel trash can over one made of galvanized steel—studies have shown that the fumes produced by galvanized steel at high temperatures can be harmful. Safety concerns aside, there’s nothing like making your own Thanksgiving tradition, especially one this cool. At the very least, we guarantee it will be the tastiest thing you’ve ever pulled out of a trash can!

FOR MORE: Instructables

Homemade Smoker - Trash Can Turkey Smoker

Photo: instructables.com

Is Your Furnace Going to Survive the Winter?

Your furnace is your home's primary defense against the uncomfortable, potentially damaging effects of frigid weather. Before winter really kicks in, make sure your furnace is up to the task.

Repairing vs. Replacing a Furnace

Photo: fotosearch.com

With snow flurries already flying in parts of the country, now is the time to take a close look at your furnace to assess whether it will be able to reliably serve you through the winter. If the appliance requires repair or replacement, it’s best to address the issue early, before the mercury plummets and frigid temperatures take hold. After all, “you don’t want to wake up to find ice in the dog bowl,” says David Kenyon, a product manager with Sears Home Services. To be on the safe side, Kenyon recommends expert furnace maintenance on a yearly basis, to ensure that the unit both delivers peak performance and lasts through its intended useful lifespan. That said, you don’t have to be a professional to assess, at least in general terms, the health of your furnace. Certain warning signs can be unmistakable. “Your furnace is probably trying to tell you something,” Kenyon says. Read on for some pointers on translating its message.

Lifespan Limitations
How old is your furnace? If you don’t know the answer—or if you believe the furnace to be more than 15 years old—chances are that its best days have come and gone. “The average heating appliance typically lasts for 10 to 14 years,” according to Kenyon. So it’s not out of the ordinary for a decade-old furnace to suffer performance problems. With regular maintenance and perhaps the occasional repair, it’s often possible to delay the inevitable. As Kenyon says, “Hire qualified, experienced technicians, and they may be able to coax your ailing furnace back into service.” But financially speaking, repair isn’t always preferable to replacement. Kenyon points out that in recent years, a lot has changed in furnace design and manufacturing. “The newer units are more efficient than ever before.” And with a furnace that consumes less energy, you can hope for lower monthly bills. Over time, Kenyon says, “those savings really add up.”

Repairing vs. Replacing a Furnace - Older Model

Photo: fotosearch.com

Performance Woes
A furnace in top condition performs at the high end of its efficiency spectrum. As the appliance deteriorates with age, however, so too does its efficiency, with the furnace consuming more energy to do the same job. “If your heating bills are higher than they were last year, it doesn’t necessarily mean your rates are higher this year,” says Kenyon. “It could be that your furnace needs attention.” Besides keeping an eye on the bottom line on your utility bills, Kenyon recommends taking notice of temperature variations from one room to the next. Uneven heating stems from a number of causes, but according to Kenyon, it’s often a signature of poor furnace efficiency. In addition, Kenyon suggests monitoring the operating patterns of your furnace. “Does it cycle on and off very frequently? Or does it seem to run all the time?” Either behavior indicates something may be amiss. A professional can help diagnose the problem, Kenyon concludes, noting that Sears Home Services offers in-home consultations free of charge.

Sights and Sounds
Some signs of furnace malfunction are subtle. Others are obvious, so long as you get close enough to see and hear the appliance at work. In his experience, Kenyon says, “A surprising number of homeowners rarely even go near the furnace.” But, he continues, simply “standing next to it can tell you a lot about its condition.” Check the surface for rust or corrosion. Listen for excessive buzzing, humming, or rattling. And if you observe any such signs of distress—or if the unit emanates an unusual odor—”don’t hesitate to have it looked at,” Kenyon says. “It may be nothing or it may be something, but to prevent a midwinter emergency, it pays to be cautious,” he advises. When arranging a service call, though, be sure to hire a technician who’s qualified to work on your specific furnace. Some pros specialize in only one type. Sears Home Services is different, Kenyon points out, because it performs maintenance on all makes and models—no matter where the unit was purchased.

When to Buy New
Near the end of its life, your furnace may be prone to frequent breakdowns. At this point, you need to decide whether to repair the unit or replace it altogether. As expected, Kenyon says, “a new furnace demands a sizable investment.” But as mentioned above, upgrading to a newer, more efficient unit often leads to lower monthly utility bills. So, Kenyon summarizes, “despite the upfront cost, replacing an old furnace could be cheaper than paying to repair an inefficient unit over and over.” In addition, Kenyon offers the reminder that, “Ultimately, your home is likely to feel more comfortable in winter with a new furnace supplying its heat.” If you decide to upgrade, know that choosing a new furnace can be overwhelming. An important advantage of a company like Sears Home Services is that, from initial selection to final installation, a project coordinator guides you through the process.

When both the comfort of your family and the integrity of your home are at stake, can you afford to take chances? Which brings up yet another reason that so many homeowners enjoy working with Sears Home Services. As a nationwide company with a decades-long history, Sears supports its work with a Satisfaction Guarantee—and your relationship with Sears will continue long after the workers pick up and leave your home. That way, you can enjoy full confidence that just as you are, Sears is committed to the success of your project. Stay warm!

Repairing vs. Replacing a Furnace - House in Winter

Photo: fotosearch.com

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

DIY Kids: Convert a Cast-Off into a Cool New Lego Table

Create a dedicated space where your kids can let their imaginations run wild and Lego bricks can tidily reside, safe from vacuum cleaners and the delicate soles of bare feet, by converting a cast-off table into a Lego building station.

DIY Lego Table

Photo: bobvila.com

My kids love Lego so much that it borders on obsession. We have a lot of these plastic bricks and, until recently, no way to keep them easily accessible and ready for play. So, we decided to make a Lego table. Sure, you could buy one—but they’re both expensive and not necessarily the most attractive piece of furniture to place in your living room. You can, however, make a functional, good-looking Lego table by upcycling a piece of furniture you already have, or tracking one down at a thrift store or garage sale. In fact, if you can let your imagination see the potential in something that’s been cast off, creating a Lego table can be surprisingly easy.

If you know how to spray-paint and glue, you can DIY a Lego table! We also added casters to ours so we could roll it from room to room, but even that process was not difficult and required only a drill and hammer. Kids can help with most parts of this project, but when it’s time to paint, I recommend letting them hold the top of your hand while you apply the spray paint, rather than allowing them to spray-paint by themselves. Small fingers may not have the strength and control necessary for a quality job. Likewise, be cautious with the superglue, as it can cause irritation if it makes contact with your skin.

DIY Lego Table - Supplies

Photo: bobvila.com

- Thrifted table
- Sandpaper
- Clean rags
- Spray paint
- Spray urethane (optional)
- Casters and hardware (optional)
- Drill and bit (if you’re attaching casters)
- Pencil
- Tape measure
- Superglue
- Lego baseplates



DIY Lego Table - Step 1

Photo: bobvila.com

For this project, we started with an old thrifted table so we wouldn’t have to build the base from scratch. Coffee tables, end tables, side tables, and play tables make great candidates for upcycling into a Lego table—especially when they’re already equipped with room for storing all those tiny pieces. Our table came with bins in it, as if it were born to be a Lego table. If your table doesn’t have drawers, consider how you might solve this storage dilemma, whether by fitting a bin on an open shelf under the table or attaching hooks and buckets to one side.

Another key factor to keep in mind: surface area. Ideally, you’re repurposing a table with a square or rectangular top that will be mostly covered by Lego baseplates. Baseplates come in 10-inch and 15-inch squares, so as you’re selecting your table, consider how the baseplates will lay out on the surface.



DIY Lego Table - Step 2

Photo: bobvila.com

Carefully inspect your table for any areas that might need repair. Glue any loose or broken pieces, and sand down any rough spots. Vacuum and wipe the table thoroughly, then allow it to dry before you start your paint job.



DIY Lego Table - Step 3

Photo: bobvila.com

Set up shop in a well-ventilated area, and lay out a drop cloth where you plan to work. If you’re using more than one color, prep your piece by properly masking the areas that you don’t intend to paint in the first round. For ours, we removed the legs and bins, and masked all but the top of the table so we could paint those elements a hammered brown. After those pieces dried, we coated the bottom of the table in red. (I purposely chose a color scheme that I wouldn’t hate seeing, whether in the playroom or the living room.)

Hold the can of spray paint about 12 inches from the surface, and apply using a back-and-forth sweeping motion. Distribute the spray just a little wider than your piece: Start depressing the nozzle a couple of inches off the left edge of the piece, sweep across, and let go a couple of inches outside the right edge. For best results and fewer drips, apply several light coats (leaving an hour to dry between each) rather than a single thick one.

To protect the newly painted finish and help it resist chipping during the playtime that’s sure to ensue, apply at least two coats of spray urethane, employing the same technique you used for the spray paint. Allow the urethane to dry for at least 48 hours to completely cure.



DIY Lego Table - Step 4

Photo: bobvila.com

Once all the painting is done, reassemble any pieces you took apart. In this project, that meant screwing the legs back into place to prep them for casters.



DIY Lego Table - Step 5

Photo: bobvila.com

If you are using casters, flip your table onto its top and attach them to the legs. For wheels with a threaded stem, drill a hole into each leg, hammer a T-nut into each one, and screw the casters into place. If you’ve picked up a set of plate casters, simply use four screws to attach each metal plate to a leg.



DIY Lego Table - Step 6

Photo: bobvila.com

Finally, it’s time to attach the baseplates using superglue, which will bind them to almost any tabletop. Measure out and mark where the baseplates should go. Lightly dampen the surface of the table according to the manufacturer’s directions. Apply glue to the bottom of each baseplate, one at a time, and place it on the table. When all the baseplates are in position, either clamp them down or weight them with something heavy to help them bond while the glue cures.

Some superglues (for example, Gorilla Glue) expand by three to four times as they cure, so do not apply glue too close to the edges of the baseplates, or you’ll end up with a mess. If some glue does seep out during the curing process, lightly chip it off with a sharp screwdriver. Then sand down any chipped paint, mask the Lego baseplates, and touch up the top with spray paint.

When everything has cured and dried, roll your new Lego table into the designated play zone and call in the troops! My kids can’t wait to build on it, and I can’t wait to see where their imaginations take them.

DIY Lego Table - Finished Project

Photo: bobvila.com

Bob Vila Radio: Prevent Electrical Shocks in Your Workshop

When setting up your workshop, don't overlook the crucial importance of electrical safety. By observing only a few initial precautions, you can go a long way toward steering clear of issues and incidents down the line.

If you’re setting up a home workshop for your do-it-yourself projects, recognize that in a room with so many power tools, it’s only prudent to take steps toward preventing electrical shocks.

Workshop Electrical Safety Detail

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For the best protection, choose electrical outlets equipped with ground fault circuit interrupters, commonly known as GFCIs. If there’s a power leakage, GFCIs instantly cut off the current, keeping you from experiencing an unpleasant or potentially dangerous jolt.

Of course, DIYers must always uphold electricity safety best practices, with or without GFCIs in place. Be sensible in your decision-making. For instance, remember that it’s a much better idea to replace a damaged cord than to prolong its life by wrapping frayed areas in electrical tape. Meanwhile, only use cords that are rated to supply more than enough current for the tools you plan to use. Finally, don’t forget your workbench; if it’s metal, then it’s only prudent to make sure that it’s grounded. Here, hire an electrician to do the work of running a wire from the bench to an electrical subpanel.

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free!

How To: Clean a Humidifier

Just switching on a humidifier isn't enough to cure the season of dry air and respiratory illness—you have to clean it too. Fortunately, this is one weekly routine that's easy enough to keep.

How to Clean a Humidifier - On a Weekly Basis

Photo: fotosearch.com

A hardworking humidifier is a lifesaver during the dry, cold months of winter. Its dedicated function—adding moisture back into the air in your home—can soothe dry skin, improve the symptoms of colds and other respiratory conditions, and maintain a level of indoor comfort despite the changing of the seasons. If not regularly cleaned, however, a humidifier can spew more than just moisture. The standing water provides a prime breeding ground for mildew and bacteria, which can then in turn be dispensed into the air with each puff from the machine, potentially making your allergies worse. Fortunately, caring for this useful appliance is not complicated: Spare yourself a headache by emptying out, cleaning, and sanitizing your humidifier once a week. While the cleaning routine differs slightly from model to model, you can follow this guide for a solid starting point. Before you get going in earnest, however, be sure to consult the owner’s manual for your unit’s specific cleaning needs and warnings.

- Water
- White vinegar
- Small, soft-bristle brush (often provided by the manufacturer)
- Towel for draining and drying
- Bleach (optional)

How to Clean a Humidifier

Photo: fotosearch.com

Unplug your humidifier and remove the tank. Pull out the filter first, and rinse it with cool, clean water—and only water. Cleaning solutions can potentially damage a humidifier’s filter.

While you’re at it, take out any additional parts that can be disassembled (refer to your manual) so you can wash them separately.

Next, reach into the cleaning closet and pull out a gallon of vinegar—this all-natural all-star has many powers, including softening mineral deposits, killing mold, and preventing future growth. Fill the base with white vinegar, and swish it around so that it runs over all sides. Also fill a small tub or bucket with undiluted vinegar, and drop in any parts you’ve removed from the base to let them soak. Allow the vinegar to work for about half an hour.

Then, gently and thoroughly scrub the base with a soft-bristle brush, getting into all the corners and removing any scale and/or mineral deposits that have formed. (You might find that your humidifier came with a special brush for cleaning; if not, you can use a bottle brush or old toothbrush.) Don’t forget to do the same with the pieces that you soaked in your tub of vinegar. Rinse everything thoroughly with cool, clean water, and set aside on a towel to dry.

Next up: Your humidifier’s tank. Pour any excess water out of the tank and refill it with clean water. Add a teaspoon of bleach (or vinegar, if you prefer) for every gallon of water, and allow the solution to sit in the tank for half an hour. Drain the tank and rinse very, very thoroughly with cool, clean water.

Put your humidifier back together, fill the tank with fresh, clean water, and plug it back in. If you use distilled water in your humidifier, you’ll probably see less buildup of mineral deposits at your weekly cleanings. Be sure to empty out and refill your humidifier with clean water daily.

As a general rule, household humidity should remain between 30 and 50 percent. Anything higher will cause stuffiness and condensation, inviting the growth of mold and mildew; anything less, and you might start to experience the dry nosebleeds and cracking skin so many suffer from in winter. Set at the right levels and regularly maintained, a clean humidifier makes for a happy—and healthy—home all winter long.

Quick Tip: Remove Wrinkles Easily—Without an Iron

Use this unexpectedly cool appliance hack on your wardrobe for wrinkle-free garments, all without having to haul out an ironing board.

How to Get Wrinkles Out Without an Iron - Wrinkle-Free Clothes

Photo: fotosearch.com

This crisp fall forecast calls for bundling up—that means some rummaging through your closet to unearth options for layering under sweaters, like button-up shirts or polos. However, removing the wrinkles from long hibernating heaps of clothing is anything but easy and breezy. You could heat up the iron, but the hands-on process can run long and risk scalding both yourself and your favorite garments. Instead, try an easier method this season. Let off a little steam from your usual domestic duties and undo stubborn wrinkles in your fall wardrobe using only your dryer and some ice cubes from the freezer.

How to Get Wrinkles Out Without an Iron - Clothes Dryer Hack

Photo: fotosearch.com

It takes just minutes to pull off this clever appliance hack. Start off by loading your dryer with the wrinkled wears. Next, gather a handful of ice cubes (2 to 3 cubes per garment) and toss them into the dryer atop the clothes. Lastly, run the dryer on its highest setting for approximately five minutes. Just as traditional irons combat wrinkles through the application of heat, steam, and weight to clothing, so too do the ice cubes join forces with the hot temperature inside of the dryer to create steam as they melt. This heated environment weakens the molecular bonds of the fabric and helps smooth out any creases. When the timer goes off, empty the dryer to reveal that freshly pressed apparel right on time for that interview or night out.

Bob Vila Radio: Cleaning Reclaimed Wood

Salvaged wood often comes with an intriguing backstory and a unique appearance—but also with embedded dirt, dust, and debris. Here's how to clean the material before including it in your next project.

Looking to add a sense of warmth and history to your home? For your next project, eschew stock lumber in favor of salvaged wood. Though it sometimes commands a higher price, you can still find weathered, character-rich old timber at an affordable cost in many parts of the country. Consider the material not only for the familiar applications—exposed beams and columns—but also for creative new uses like fireplace mantels and countertops.

How to Clean Reclaimed Wood

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Listen to BOB VILA ON USING SALVAGED WOOD or read the text below:

Typically, reclaimed boards are rough hewn and pocked with nooks and crannies. Especially when held in storage for a prolonged period of time, all those little crevices collect no small amount of dirt and debris. Therefore, the first thing to do is give the salvaged wood a thorough cleaning. The easiest way to dislodge the dirt is to use a pressure washer. Just be sure to turn the tool down to its lowest setting. That way, you avoid ruining the patina that gives the wood its special look. Remember to wash all sides, including the ends, and when you’re done, run a fun to facilitate the drying process. Finally, if desired, lightly sand the wood before getting to work.

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free!

Weekend Projects: 5 Ways to DIY a Folding Table

Don’t let a space-challenged room make you fold on your design dreams! Get the extra work or dining space without sacrificing a single square foot when you build one of these DIY folding tables.

Folding tables are an elegant, economical, and effortless way to switch between an extra work surface and freed-up floor space at a moment’s notice. And while they require few materials to build (or makeover), the design options for these collapsible counters are so endless that would-be woodworkers may not know where to begin on their DIY journeys. Fortunately for you, we’ve hand-picked five fantastic folding tables that can be completed in a weekend and then displayed year-round. Read on for space-smart inspiration.



DIY Folding Table - Card Table Makeover

Photo: addisonmeadowslane.com

Even hosts-with-the-most start their entertaining legacies with little more to wine and dine their guests than scrap metal and a dream. Take the enterprising entertainer at Addison Meadows Lane: She transformed a lackluster card table into an inviting, fabric-covered fold-away by first stripping the old batting and spraying the table with primer and paint. After stapling an attractive (and durable!) PVC fabric to the top, you’re left with a stylish surface for all occasions.



DIY Folding Table - Drop-Down Kids' Table

Photo: sawdustandembryos.com

This high-art Murphy folding table from Sawdust & Embryos will make you long for a seat at the kiddie table. The mother and maker behind this craft cove for children started by cutting out a half circle of melamine, reinforcing it with plywood, and then adorning it with piano hinges. After affixing the slab to the wall with Scotch indoor fasteners, press it in place and pull down the table like a Murphy bed to initiate playtime, snack-time, and giggles galore.



DIY Folding Table - Wooden Folding Table

Photo: manmadediy.com

Leave guests at your next dinner party floored when you tell them the secret behind your latest DIY—that your farmhouse-style kitchen table started with salvaged floorboards. That’s how the crafty blogger at Man Made DIY achieved his own truly distressed look, anyway. The wood planks were glued together and cut to size, with a fashion-forward table skirt affixed along the edges using a pocket-hole jig. Skip a stationary base, though, and screw on spun legs with gate hinges so that you can fold them up after your function.



DIY Folding Table - Rustic Stikwood Folding Table

Photo: sugarandcloth.com

If planning fall festivities has left you with little headspace or floor space, don’t stress. You can marry the function of pop-up furniture to accommodate your extra guests with a style fit for your kitchen. The DIYer behind Sugar and Cloth made this reclaimed wooden wonder by screwing standard folding table legs to plywood, and spray painting everything white. A layer of Stikwood, a peel-and-stick wood planking, over the tabletop creates rustic-modern finish that can weather the whole holiday season without a table runner.



DIY Folding Table - Slim Kitchen Table

Photo: ljdecor.com

Just as you can’t fit a square peg into a round hole, you can’t squeeze a large dining table into a long, narrow kitchen—at least, not if you still need to reach the furthest pantry doors. So to make an eat-in out of an already tiny kitchen, the DIYer at LJDécor converted a slim standing table into one that folds down. Once legs were removed, the remaining tabletop was brightened and tiled guitar chips, then mounted to the wall with two wood planks and a piano hinge. During the day, the art installation hangs flat against the wall, but come dinnertime, a single angular-cut 2×4 plank slid underneath gives the table a leg up.