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DEWALT Inspection Camera Gives You X-Ray Vision—Almost

Though inspection cameras are not new, they've never been less expensive, or more fun, than right now.

Inspection Camera - Dewalt

Photo: dewalt.com

It’s the next best thing to X-ray vision. With a mini camera fitted to the end of a flexible, three-foot-long cable, the DEWALT Inspection Camera enables you to see behind walls, under floors, and above ceilings—just about anywhere, so long as there’s an opening of at least 17 millimeters (or a hole that small could could be made). Since the camera and cable are waterproof—and since the product features an integrated LED bulb—you can even see into operational plumbing. In other words, the tool enables you to see parts of your home that would be impossible to see otherwise, at least not without considerable hassle and disruption.

Inspection Camera for Walls and Pipes - Action

Photo: amazon.com

Inspections cameras are not new, but today’s models are much more portable and much less expensive than their predecessors. While some no-frills models can be found for about $70, only the DEWALT tool boasts 3x zoom and image capturing. That means the camera takes photos and videos and saves them to a removable microSD card. You can review them later, whether on your laptop or smartphone. Or you can send them to your contractor, so he can have a look, too.

As useful as an inspection camera might prove for a serious home improvement project, the tool can also come in quite handy on an everyday basis, helping you locate and retrieve lost items. Because not only does the camera give you the ability to see under heavy, unwieldy furniture, but with its hook and magnet attachments, it can even work to snag an errant earring from under the bed, or an elusive cat toy from behind the media cabinet in the living room.

Purchase the DEWALT DCT410S1 12-Volt Max Inspection Camera Kit, $254.99

DIY Plywood Strip Desk

When Sarah found herself with a heap of unused plywood piling up in her basement, she hatched an extraordinary idea. What resulted was a desk we can't help but admire.

Bob Vila Thumbs Up Plywood

DIY Plywood Strip Desk

Can you believe this stunner only cost $53 to make? We couldn’t either. Using scrap wood, a set of spare hairpin legs and a lot of ingenuity, Sarah—of Sarah’s Big Idea—made this incredibly sophisticated and modern desk. Find out how she did it by reading her how to.


- Plywood scraps
- Hairpin legs
- Wood glue
- Whitewash stain
- Sealer
- Drawer handles
- Spray paint



DIY plywood desk - plan

Photo: sarahsbigidea.com

Plan. This all started a couple of weeks ago, when I took my design into the American Workshop to ask, “Is this possible?” I had my doubts. Would glued-up plywood strips be strong enough to make into furniture? If so, was it possible to get the “infinity” look I wanted on the corners? Jim assured me it was, and helped me solidify my plan. I came back a few days later with my final measurements, and got down to business.



DIY plywood desk - cutting

Photo: sarahsbigidea.com

Cut. I started by cutting all my scraps into 1-inch-wide strips. I figured that once everything was glued together and sanded smooth, I’d still have 3/4-inch of material left.



DIY Plywood Desk - lay out

Photo: sarahsbigidea.com

Lay it out. This was putzy. Being the obsessive-compulsive perfectionist that I am, I wanted each row to be made up of the same type of plywood, so that the stripes would match all the way across. Then I cut each joint at a 45-degree angle, to make the joints tight and minimize interruptions in the pattern.

I kept going until I had just over 6 feet x 3 feet of material, when all compressed together.



DIY plywood desk - clamps

Photo: sarahsbigidea.com

Glue and clamp. This went super fast. It was a 2-person job. Actually 3, because there was one good Samaritan standing by with clamps at the ready.  (I’m sorry, good Samaritan, I don’t know who you are, but thanks for your help!)

Jim used a 3-inch paint roller and a tray full of glue to roll the glue on, while I brought all the pieces over to the gluing table and kept them in order, and helped slap the pieces into place after they were rolled with glue. Once every single piece was in place, we clamped. The whole process took about 15 minutes.


Sand. After 24 hours, I took the clamps off and went about making a desk-worthy surface out of my plywood slab. The surface was totally uneven, since the strips were not all level with each other, and the glue had stuck to the waxed paper that we had used to protect the table underneath.

Luckily, American Workshop has a 36-inch belt sander. It took a lot of passes, but within 30 minutes we had a smooth surface. Before the final sanding, I used wood filler to fill in all the little holes that you’ll find inside plywood.



DIY Plywood Desk - cut pieces

Photo: sarahsbigidea.com

Cut all your pieces. Remember, I was going for an infinity look on the desk—I wanted the lines to be as uninterrupted as possible. I figured the best way to do that was to make one single slab, and cut the individual pieces out of it. I don’t know anything about joinery, so… let’s just say, I’m glad I had help.


Assemble. This was pretty straightforward, because in the process of cutting the pieces, I had finally started to understand the plan. But it was another 2-person job—a fact that I discovered after I managed to drop one of the side pieces. Twice. And it broke. Twice.

Work of art destroyed? No big deal. Put some more glue on it.



DIY Plywood Desk - Drawer Construction

Photo: sarahsbigidea.com

Drawers. I learned how to build drawer boxes with rabbets instead of butt-joints! Now there’s a sentence that only makes sense in context. The drawers just sit on wooden slides. Super simple design. Underneath the desk, there are a couple of blocks of plywood that add stability, but also provide a place to attach the drawer slides.



DIY Plywood Desk - Drawer Fronts

Photo: sarahsbigidea.com

Drawer fronts. This was the hardest part of the entire desk-building process. The drawer fronts were cut directly out of the front piece, so that the pattern would line up. Getting them placed perfectly on the drawer boxes so that the lines looked continuous, and so that the gaps around the drawers were as small as possible, took some trial and error… and a little double-stick tape. But in the end, it turned out just about perfect.


Finish and screw up. I started with a good sanding and a coat of clear satin polyurethane. And the poly did exactly what I expected it to: it brought out all the gorgeous details. Unfortunately, it also added waaaay more of a yellow tint than I wanted. So I sanded the whole thing down and started over.

Take Two: Minwax White Wash, and its recommended top coat, Polycrylic (instead of the regular oil-based poly I used for my first attempt). I brushed the stain on and wiped it off almost immediately; I didn’t want to end up with a white desk.  And I didn’t want to take the chance of obscuring the wood grain.

And in between coats, I spray painted a pair of cheap IKEA handles.

DIY plywood desk - finished work

Photo: sarahsbigidea.com

Wonderful—thanks for sharing, Sarah! For even more incredible DIYs, visit Sarah’s Big Idea.

DIY Plywood Magazine File

Storage bins that fit seamlessly into your decor are hard to come by. And what is available out there often costs a pretty penny. So why not follow this blogger's lead and make your own?

Bob Vila Thumbs Up Plywood

DIY Magazine File

Photo: dans-le-townhouse.blogspot.com

The IKEA Expedit is a veritable mainstay in homes across the world. It’s perfect for collectors and book lovers, but you may not want all of its many shelves on display. That’s why Tanya at Dans le Townhouse decided it was high time to find a storage solution to hide her many magazines. But when buying a container looked bleak, she and her husband decided to DIY their own—from plywood! The effect is perfect, and gives this big box shelf a custom flair all its own. Find out how they did it by reading the how to.


- 1/4″ Carribea pine plywood (approximately 1.5 sheets)
- Tablesaw
- Bandsaw
- Wood glue
- Clamps
- Sandpaper
- Paint
- White stain
- Low-luster varnish
- Drawer pulls
- Felt feet



DIY Magazine File - Construction

Photo: dans-le-townhouse.blogspot.com

Once we had an idea of what we wanted—and what size—Hubby used this online cut list tool that he really likes. It helps figure out how much material we need, and helps us efficiently cut up a sheet of plywood.



DIY Plywood Magazine Rack - Cutting Plywood

Photo: dans-le-townhouse.blogspot.com

He used a table saw to cut all of the square/rectangular shapes and a bandsaw for the triangular cuts.



DIY Plywood Magazine File - Gluing Plywood

Photo: dans-le-townhouse.blogspot.com

He edge glued and clamped the boxes together (applying wood glue to both sides of each joint). Once dry, he glued the internal dividers into place. Without dividers, these would make great storage bins for the Expedit.



DIY plywood magazine file - Painting Plywood

Photo: dans-le-townhouse.blogspot.com

Once the glue dried, we sanded the finished magazine files smooth. I was definitely tempted to paint them aqua (everything turquoise!), but for some reason I’m really smitten with the Carribea grain. I decided to paint the inside turquoise. To help insure no paint bled onto the fronts, I didn’t paint the edge—only the insides.


While I love the Carribea grain, I don’t love the natural colour of pine. Three coats of my favorite white stain helped tone down the yellowness. Once the stain was dry, I applied two coats of low luster varnish, lightly scuff sanding in between coats.


We installed my vintage hardware—centered—with the help of a small metric bolt and washer.



DIY Magazine File - Felt Feet

Photo: dans-le-townhouse.blogspot.com

Finally, we added some felt feet to the bottom of each file to keep it from scratching the Expedit.

DIY Magazine File - Completed Rack

Photo: dans-le-townhouse.blogspot.com


And you’re finished!

DIY Magazine Rack - In Place

Photo: dans-le-townhouse.blogspot.com

Thanks, Tanya! To take a tour of her house, or to see even more DIY projects, visit Dans le Townhouse.

DIY Plywood Bookcase

When this blogger needed a spot to unpack boxes of books after a move, she decided to create a library shelf from plywood boards. Why buy when you can DIY like this?

Bob Vila Thumbs Up Plywood

DIY plywood bookcase

Photo: ohohblog.com

When we saw Ama’s sleek and contemporary bookshelf, we were impressed. And when it became clear that it was made entirely out of plywood, we were doubly so. Her project, which we came across at Oh Oh Blog, is proof that humble materials need not be relegated to lowly status. In fact, after seeing this bookshelf, we think plywood deserves a second look. Here’s how she did it.


- Plywood (see dimensions below)
- Wood glue
- Clamps
- Sandpaper
- Stain
- Varnish
- Screws
- Drill



DIY plywood bookcase - cut sizes

Photo: ohohblog.com

Cut the plywood boards (or have them cut professionally) using the following dimensions.

A – 16 pieces of 10″ x 10″
B – 4 pieces of 10″ x 63″

C – 1 piece of 10″ x 36.5″

D – 4 pieces of 5″ x 10″
E – 1 piece of 5″ x 36.5″



DIY Plywood Bookcase - Assembly Diagram

Photo: ohohblog.com

Glue the “A” pieces two by two to make the vertical parts. I used wood glue and clamps to hold them together until it was well stuck.


I did the same with the D pieces to make the base.


I sanded all the pieces, flat and edges (booooring part).


I stained shelves in chocolate color and applied transparent varnish on the other pieces. I like the contrast between the two colors. This can work with any other colors combinations—give it a try.



DIY plywood bookcase - base construction

Photo: ohohblog.com

I assembled the D and E pieces to make the base of the bookcase. You have to put the D pieces perpendicular to the E piece, put some glue between the pieces, and then fasten with two screws on each side.

Then I did the same with the C piece and two A pieces (after gluing them 2 by 2) to make the back of the bookcase.



DIY plywood bookcase - step 7

Photo: ohohblog.com

After that, I attached three A pieces to a B shelve. I put glue on the shelf and laid the A above, making sure they were vertical.



DIY Plywood Bookcase - Assembly Process

Photo: ohohblog.com

Almost done! We can start to assemble the shelves. Put the base on the floor, add some glue and put a shelve on top. Use clamps or weights (like books or tool box) to ensure a strong bond. Then add glue and put the other part on top, and so on… until the last shelf!

Thanks for sharing, Ama! To see even more incredible DIYs, visit her at Oh Oh Blog.

DIY Plywood Marquee Letters

Plywood usually spells practical, but can it ever be fun? This project certainly has us rethinking that notion. Boring no more!

Bob Vila Thumbs Up Plywood

DIY Marquee Letters

Photo: twothirtyfivedesigns.com

Think that fun and custom home accents need to be pricey? If so, you’re in for a shock. Take a look at this amazing marquee sign made by the talented Allison at Two Thirty-Five Designs. It’s all made from humble plywood and simple string lights. With a few power tools and a free weekend, you could make a sign all your own. Read on to find out how.


- Plywood (2 sheets – thickness depends on if you are going to attach it to the wall or lean it)
- Outdoor string lights (1 strand per letter)
- Jigsaw
- Corner Sander
- Drill/Driver
- Screws (if you plan to attach to the wall)


I set up a projector and used a photo editing software to trace my letters, according to the size that I needed.


After tracing, I cut out each letter with my jigsaw, sanding any rough edges quickly with my hand sander.



DIY Marquee Letters - closeup

Photo: twothirtyfivedesigns.com

I measured out the strand of lights on each letter, marking exactly where I wanted all the lights to be, making sure the cord was not pulled to tightly. Also, plan beforehand how you will make each plug attach to the next plug/letter.


Using my drill and drill bit, I drilled out a hole per light for every mark I made on each letter.


Carefully unscrew each bulb and run the base through the backside of the letter/each hole, and screw back in each bulb as you go.



DIY marquee letters - installed on wall

Photo: twothirtyfivedesigns.com

Depending on if you mount your letter, lean or whatever your preference is, you can tuck and/or tape the extra cord behind the letters. I mounted mine with 2 1/2″ anchor screws into a stud and tucked the excess cord behind the letters.


DIY Marquee Letters - Completed Work

Photo: twothirtyfivedesigns.com

Thanks, Allison! Did you like this? Find even more great DIYs at Two Thirty-Five Designs.

Bob Vila Radio: Prevent Roof Collapse with a Snow Rake

In the unlikely event of a snow load testing the strength of your roof, use a snow rake to lighten the load up there.

When it comes to snow on the roof, how much is too much? That depends a lot on the way your roof was constructed.

Photo: shutterstock.com

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Listen to BOB VILA ON SNOW RAKES or read the text below:

Steep and smooth roofs tend to shed snow loads easily, while roofs that are only slightly pitched or flat tend to collect big drifts. Another important factor is the weight of the snow. Half a foot of wet snow tips the scales about the same as a yard or more of fluffy flakes.

If you have a multi-story house, you’d best hire a licensed and insured pro who has the right equipment to get the job done right.

On the other hand, if you have a single-story home, you can pull snow off the roof with a long, telescoping snow rake. Look for sturdy models with small rollers that keep the edge of the rake away from your shingles—you don’t want to damage those.

Finally, before you start pulling snow off the roof, put some thought into where the snow’s going to land. You’ll want to pick a spot other than on your head or the heads of bystanders!

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.

Weekend Projects: 5 Bright Ideas for a DIY Lamp

If you're looking for a light fixture that fits your style, your space, and your budget, don't waste time in stores—make your own!

I continue to be astonished by the retail cost of most light fixtures. If you, too, have been subject to sudden bouts of sticker shock, know this: It’s so much cheaper—and really, so much easier than you might have feared—to create a DIY lamp. Best of all, you can completely customize the design to suit, not only your style preferences, but any quirks that happen to exist in the space where you need a bit more light to see by. Scroll down to see five favorite DIY lamp projects now!



DIY Lamp - Glass Jug

Photo: theinspiredroom.net

From The Inspired Room, here’s a DIY lamp project involving a vintage glass water jug, the sort of thing you might find at your local flea market. It’s more or less a readymade lamp stand, thanks to its size and sturdiness. All you need to do is glue a socket into the mouth of the jug, then finish things off with a shade.



DIY Lamp - Branch

Photo: themerrythought.com

Even elements of nature can be reused in your design for a DIY lamp. Need proof? Check out this charming handmade project from The Merry Thought. Here, Manda drilled through a straight, cut-to-size branch, snaking the cord through. Then she attached a socket to the top of the branch and a base to the bottom.



DIY Lamp - Trumpet

Photo: instructables.com

Hit just the right note in your living room’s lighting with a lamp constructed from a once-loved instrument. This Instructables how-to turns an out-of-work trumpet into a side table’s lamp by threading it skinny lamp base right through the base of the horn and pulling the cord through to where a lightbulb will rest on the mouthpiece end.



DIY Lamp - Cameras

Photo: starsforstreetlights.com

The best home accessories—lighting included—give a nod to a homeowner’s personality or passion. For this photographer’s dream lamp, Stacie of Stars for Streetlights stacked vintage cameras to build a charming base. And no topper would be quite as fitting as this handmade shade of strung-up photography slides.



DIY Lamp - 2 by 4

Photo: decorandthedog.net

For her DIY lamp, Michelle at Decor and the Dog chose to build the base out of a run-of-the-mill two-by-four. The final results, though, were far from ordinary, since she combined the wood with an unlikely companion—iron pipe. Two very different looks are possible, depending on whether or not you include a shade.

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In the event this Sweepstakes is challenged by any legal or regulatory authority, Sponsor reserves the right to terminate the Sweepstakes, or to disqualify entrants residing in the affected geographic areas. In such event, the Sponsor shall have no liability to any entrants who are disqualified due to such an action. Sponsor reserves the right to modify these Official Rules in any way or at any time. Sponsor reserves the right, in their sole discretion, to cancel or suspend this Sweepstakes should viruses, bugs or other causes beyond their control corrupt the administration, security or proper play of the Sweepstakes. In the event any portion of this Sweepstakes is compromised by any non-authorized human intervention, actions of entrants, or other causes beyond the control of Sponsor which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, corrupt or impair the integrity, administration, security, or operation of this Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to suspend, modify, abbreviate or terminate the Sweepstakes without further obligation. If Sponsor elects to abbreviate the Sweepstakes, Winner(s) will be determined from all eligible entries received for Drawing(s) prior to the action or compromise giving rise to the suspension or termination of this Sweepstakes. In the event of cancellation, abbreviation or suspension, Sponsor shall promptly post a notice on the Sweepstakes entry page to such effect. This Sweepstakes shall be governed by New York law. By participating in this Sweepstakes entrants agree that New York courts shall have jurisdiction over any dispute or litigation arising from or relating to this Sweepstakes and that venue shall be only in New York City, New York. The failure to exercise or enforce any right or provision of these Official Rules shall not constitute a waiver of such right or provision. If any part of these Official Rules is held by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid or unenforceable, that part will be enforced to the maximum extent permitted by law, and the remainder of these Official Rules will remain fully in force.

Enter Bob Vila’s New Year, New Tile Give-Away!

Enter to win $4,000 in custom tile, $500 in shipping, and $500 in installation from Fireclay Tile!

At one time or another—perhaps as recently as five minutes ago—you daydreamed about updating your kitchen or bathroom. The problem is, and has always been, affording such a big remodeling job. That’s why we’ve teamed up with Fireclay Tile, offering a give-away that can bring your fantasy kitchen or bath one step closer to being a reality. The winner of our sweepstakes gets—are you ready?—$4,000 in custom tile, $500 in installation, and $500 in shipping costs!

New Year, New Tile


Fireclay Tile is a leader in its category, and not only because the company manufactures all of its tile in California using sustainable practices. Unlike many of its competitors, Fireclay understands that shopping for tile can be daunting, especially for first-timers. For that reason, Fireclay delivers a slew of additional services to help you make the right choice. These include design consultations, digital renderings, color samples, and project quotes, all free of charge. It’s old-fashioned service for the homeowner of today.

New Year, New Tile Give-Away - 3

Photo: fireclaytile.com

Since the business began in 1986, Fireclay Tile has retained its original mission: creating beautiful handmade custom tile, providing unbeatable customer service, and using environmentally-responsible practices in their work.

New Year, New Tile Give-Away - 4

Photo: fireclaytile.com

Today and every day this month (from noon EST Wednesday, December 31st, through 11:59 a.m. Saturday, January 1st), enter to win your custom tile package from Fireclay Tile!

Bob Vila’s New Year, New Tile Give-Away is open only to permanent legal U.S. residents of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Void in all other geographic locations. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Contest Period for Prize runs from 12:00 p.m. (EST) EST Wednesday, December 31st, 2014 through 11:59 am Saturday, January 31st, 2015. One entry per household per day on BobVila.com. Alternative means of entry for Drawing is available by faxing your name and address to 508-437-8486 during the applicable Entry Period. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received. By entering, all entrants agree to the Official Rules.

Weekend Projects: 5 Ways to Make a Bar Cart

This weekend, why not raise a glass to celebrate the bar cart you made with your own hands?

You might think of the bar cart as a purely functional furniture, limited to the duty implied by its name. But if you give it a second thought, a bar cart can do so much more than store cocktail supplies and provide a serving station. It’s a versatile piece, especially when outfitted with wheels. While today it might be chockablock with bottles of booze, tomorrow it could display framed family photos or travel mementos. Given its vintage pedigree and air of glamour, simply possessing a bar cart says something about you; put together a DIY bar cart to ensure that it says precisely the right thing about your personality and your space.



DIY Bar Cart - Ikea Hack

Photo: sugarandcloth.com

To build her DIY bar cart, Ashley—the blogger behind Sugar & Cloth—began with a square shelving unit from IKEA. From that basic starting point, she went on to create something spare yet special through the judicious addition of brass hardware, including brass-hooded ball casters that make the cart easy to re-position.



DIY Bar Carts - Plumbing Pipes

Photo: alifedesigned.blogspot.com

Plumbing pipes are a do-it-yourself favorite, because anyone can fit pipes together, even if it takes a bit of trial and error to strike upon the optimal design. Nancy of Life Designed offers amusing step-by-step commentary on her creation of a DIY bar cart that manages to look both rustic and industrial all at once.



DIY Bar Carts - Woodworking

Photo: inhonorofdesign.com

Thanks to its compact size and straightforward design, a DIY bar cart can be a terrific project for an aspiring woodworker who’s looking for a beginner-level project. To give this one a shot, you’ll need only some inexpensive materials, a couple of basic tools, and the full project tutorial provided by In Honor of Design.



DIY Bar Cart - Table

Photo: myfashionjuice.com

Look very closely, and you might be able to tell that this fancy-looking DIY bar cart was once an IKEA coffee table. Cris of My Fashion Juice saved it from the curb, dressing it up with a coat of metallic spray paint. To complete the transformation, she surfaced the table top with mirror tiles and added casters to the legs.



Bar Cart Tray

Photo: honestlyyum.com

If all you need is a pop-up drinks station for parties—or an extra surface for special occasions—take a cue from Erica at Honestly Yum. She made her collapsible DIY bar cart simply by adding gold-toned hardware to a black lacquer tray. Placed on a folding restaurant tray stand, Erica’s pseudo cart does the trick for as long as she needs it. Afterward, it stows neatly away.