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- Bob Vila Thumbs Up: Announcing the DIY Storage Competition!
Bob Vila Thumbs Up: Announcing the DIY Storage Competition!
Vote now—and vote daily—to choose your favorite project competing to win this month's Bob Vila Thumbs Up competition!
Whether you live in an expansive dwelling or a tiny home, making the most of your storage space is a must. Vertical shelving or double-duty furniture goes a long way to reducing visual clutter and maximizing livability. And if you ask us, the best storage solutions are the kind you build yourself. That’s why we ‘re featuring a handful of amazing DIY storage projects from around the web in this month’s Bob Vila Thumbs Up competition.
Bob Vila Thumbs Up highlights some of the best and brightest DIY bloggers, and this month we’re excited to share five stunning (and super-functional) DIY storage ideas. We like all of them but we’re counting on you to help us name one blogger as the champion of this month’s competition and the prize—a $250 gift card.
So cast your vote today and every day in August to help your favorite blogger become this month’s Bob Vila Thumbs Up winner. The outcome of this competition will be decided by you and your vote.
- Painting >
- How To: Stain Cabinets
How To: Stain Cabinets
If you love everything about your wood cabinets except for their color, forget about spending a small fortune to replace them with a brand-new set. Instead, refinish the boxes, doors, and drawers with a stain that brings out the natural beauty of the material. Here's how.
Of all the reasons to appreciate solid wood cabinets, there may be none more appealing than their virtually endless changeability. That is, if you ever tire of the cabinets’ appearance, you can always refinish the wood, transforming the overall look of your kitchen or bath in the process. Of course, the size of the project depends on a number of factors. But generally speaking, you don’t need to be an expert to stain cabinets successfully. With only a handful of basic tools and materials—and in many cases, the willingness to make a mess and clean it up—almost anyone can achieve pro-quality results, without having to hire a contractor.
MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Mild detergent
- Clean cloths
- Plastic sheeting or drop cloths
- Protective gloves
- Chemical stripper
- Palm sander
- Fine- and medium-grit sandpaper
- Wood conditioner
- #000 Steel wool
- Wood stain
- Polyurethane sealer
The process always starts out the same way, even if your cabinets are new and unfinished. Remove the cabinet hardware (including the hinges) and set the doors aside. You can leave the cabinet frames in place, but take special care to protect the rest of the room with drop cloths or plastic sheeting. Once you have prepared the work area, give the cabinets a thorough cleaning. First, rub them down with a clean cloth and mild detergent, then follow up with plain water to eliminate soap residue. Note: There’s one situation when it’s not necessary to spend time cleaning at the outset. That’s if the existing cabinets are painted or stained and, rather than use a chemical stripper, you’d prefer to scrape and sand away the existing finish. Here, you can skip the cleaning and proceed directly to the second step.
Unless your cabinets are raw wood, the existing finish must be removed before you can apply the new stain coat. There are two ways to go about it. If you’re only dealing with a few cabinets, it may be simplest to handle the job the old-fashioned way, without resorting to a chemical stripper. But if you’ve got a number of cabinets to refinish, a chemical stripper can save you a great deal of time and energy. Stripping products have improved over the years, but it remains important to pay close attention to any warnings included with your chosen product, be it a liquid or gel. Ventilation is a must, and manufacturers typically also recommended that do-it-yourselfers wear the appropriate protective gear (gloves, at minimum). Also, remember to cover any surfaces you don’t want to strip (painter’s tape is handy for the purpose). Once you’ve properly prepared, apply the stripper according to the included instructions. Normally, stripper takes about a half hour to set in. After that, the finish ought to come off easily with a scraper. But bear in mind that with a stubborn finish, it may be necessary to use multiple applications of stripper.
Once you’ve taken off the old finish, move on to sanding the cabinets with 80- to 120-grit sandpaper. If you have access to a palm sander, capitalize on its ability to make quicker, easier work of what would otherwise be a taxing, time-consuming step. As you would in any other project, sand in the direction of the wood grain until you have the cabinets surfaces are smooth and even. Along the way, you may wish to repair any imperfections (cracks or scratches) that you notice in the wood. Finally, finish up by sanding the cabinets again, this time with 150- to 220-grit paper. Vacuum the sanding dust, and before you continue, wipe down the wood with a moistened cloth to pick up any lingering debris. Let the wood dry.
The staining portion of the project begins, not with stain, but with wood conditioner. Conditioning helps ensure that the stain adheres evenly and looks its best. Much like stain itself, wood conditioner goes on with a paintbrush. If the cabinet and doors feature inset paneling and other details, opt for a small brush capable of reaching all the little nooks and crannies. By the same token, if all the cabinet surfaces are flat, you can safely stick with a wider brush. No matter the style of the cabinets, completely coat their surfaces with a thin layer of the conditioner. Once the cabinets are dry, lightly scuff them with #000 steel wool.
Now it’s time to apply the stain. Unlike paint, the appearance of any given stain partly depends on the type of wood to which it’s being applied. For that reason, it may be wise to test your chosen stain somewhere inconspicuous before you apply the product all over. Reserve your judgment until the test stain has dried. Assuming you like what you see, go ahead and apply the stain using either a paintbrush or a clean, soft rag. Work in the direction of the grain and aim, not only for complete coverage, but for a light, even coating. As you go along, you may notice one or another section looking darker than the rest. Don’t worry: You can lighten things up by rubbing off the excess stain with a fresh rag. Once you’ve coated every cabinet surface, wait for the stain to dry. That may take a day or two, depending on the humidity. During that time, be careful not to let dust or dirt land on the cabinets. Once the stain has fully cured, assess whether or not you need a second coat. If you were envisioning a lighter color, you may be able to get away with one coat. Otherwise, expect to apply at least two coats. Between coats, don’t forget to lightly scuff the cabinet surfaces with steel wool. Repeat the process a third time if the stain color still hasn’t darkened enough to match your taste and expectations.
Today, some products combine stain and polyurethane for one-step finishing. If you happen to have used such a stain-sealer hybrid, well, congratulations—you’re finished. If you opted for a traditional stain, you don’t strictly need to seal the cabinets, but considering the inevitable wear and tear, it’s probably a good idea. Polyurethane sealer goes on with a paintbrush, and as is the case for stain, two thin coats are much better than a single thick coat. Before applying the initial coat of sealer, consider that polyurethane tends to accentuate any surface imperfections. If your cabinets aren’t perfectly smooth, you may wish to sand them down again. After sanding, use a moistened cloth to remove all the dust. Once the cabinets are clean and dry, stir the polyurethane and apply it in long, overlapping strokes. So long as you concentrate on keeping the application thin, the sealer isn’t likely to pool or drip. Next, wait for the sealer to cure—and while you’re waiting, take pains not to let any dust or debris settle on the drying cabinets. After the recommended dry time has elapsed, return to the cabinets and, for the smoothest-possible finish, sand the cabinets one more time (or lightly scuff them with steel wool). Remove the sanding dust, and once the cabinets are dry, apply the final sealer coat.
Re-hang the cabinet doors and put the knobs or pulls back in place (or seize the moment and install replacement hardware). Then stand back and relish the upgrade you’ve given to your old cabinets, and how, in turn, their new look has imbued the rest of the room with a new and exciting character.
- How To's & Quick Tips >
- How To: Remove Rust from Hand Tools
How To: Remove Rust from Hand Tools
Wait! Don't throw away those rusty hand tools when you can restore them. Follow either of these straightforward methods to restore their shine and stop further corrosion in its tracks.
Has it been a while since your last home improvement project? If your do-it-yourself skills are a little rusty, chances are your tools are too. Without regular use, metal tools are prone to problems. Over time, iron and steel exposed to oxygen and moisture form a chemical reaction called oxidation. The visual evidence of this reaction is the burnt orange speckling that covers your metal possessions. Eventually, too much rust will ruin your tools—giving you yet another excuse to put off those projects. Well, no more excuses! Grab those tools and get to work, because rust is removable. Here we offer two ways to quickly and easily bust that rust.
Get Physical: Scour, Scrape, and Sand
If you don’t mind using a little elbow grease, you can physically remove rust with abrasion. Choose an effective scrubbing material when dealing with light to moderate surface rust problems. Deeper rust issues may require more than just muscle, but this physical solution is a good first step.
TOOLS AND MATERIALS
- Dish detergent
- Coarse sandpaper, scouring pad, or steel wool
- Fine sandpaper
- Kerosene (optional)
- Electric drill with wire wheel (optional)
Start by cleaning the rusted tools in soapy water to remove dirt and grease. Then, rinse the tools with water and dry thoroughly.
For light rust, scrub the surface with a scouring pad, sandpaper, or steel wool. Always start with the coarsest abrasive to remove the built-up rust and pockmarks, then switch to a finer grit to smooth out the grooves caused by the coarse grit. If you still see rust, it’s time for a more heavy-duty course of action.
STEP 3 (optional)
For more serious rust problems, coat the surface of the tools with kerosene to function as a cutting lubricant. Wait several minutes. Then, attach a wire wheel to an electric drill to buff away the stubborn rust. Finish off with fine-grain sandpaper to remove any leftover residue. If the surface rust is gone, your work is done. But if the problem persists, you may need a stronger chemical solution.
Try Chemicals: Soak in Oxalic Acid
When you want to save yourself some energy, oxalic acid offers an effective chemical-based treatment for dissolving light to moderate rust problems. This mild acid gets right into joints and crevices to penetrate the problem areas, making it especially good at removing rust in tight spaces and hard-to-clean spots. Just pick up the inexpensive chemical at your local home improvement store to get started.
TOOLS AND MATERIALS
- Rubber gloves
- Dish detergent
- Oxalic acid
- Large plastic container
First, clean the tools with dish detergent and water before you begin so grease and dirt won’t block the chemical process.
Before you pull out any chemicals, don’t forget to strap on a pair of goggles and rubber gloves for protection. Although this is a mild acid, always work in a well-ventilated area to avoid fumes. Mix three tablespoons of oxalic acid with one gallon of water in a plastic container large enough to submerge the hand tools you’ll be cleaning. Then, place the tools in the solution and make sure it covers the tools completely.
Soak the tools for approximately 20 minutes, or until the rust is gone. (You may need more time or less depending on the level of corrosion.) Then, rinse, dry thoroughly, and store the tools once more.
Additional notes: While there are a variety of different methods for removing unwanted rust, one solution tops the rest: prevention. The following tips will help you stop a rust problem before it starts.
• Remember to always dry your tools immediately after use, and even spray them with a rust inhibitor like WD-40.
• Store your tools in a clean, dry place. Dust attracts moisture, and moisture leads to rust. Yes, you need to dust your house and your toolbox too!
• Keep your toolbox moisture-free. Use silica gel packs (available at your local home improvement store) to absorb excess moisture. Or, use an old-fashioned wooden toolbox instead. The wood will absorb any excess wetness.
• Finally, for maximum protection, invest in a dehumidifier to control the climate and limit the humidity. Beyond saving your metal tools, it will keep you comfortable as you tackle your next to-do with your rust-free equipment.
- How To's & Quick Tips >
- Quick Tip: Use a Painting Tool for Easier Picture Hanging
Quick Tip: Use a Painting Tool for Easier Picture Hanging
Put away the pencil, the tape measure, and even the level—there’s an easier way to hang a photo picture-perfect every time. Try this tip that makes the process so simple, anyone can get the "hang" of it!
It’s no easy feat to master the art of hanging a picture on the wall. Between marking the hole, hammering the nail, and struggling to keep the frame level, what seems like it would be a straightforward task often turns out to be surprisingly tricky, sometimes even calling for the care and attention of two people at once. Believe it or not, you can simplify the process, dramatically so, with an inexpensive little tool you’ve never thought twice about before—a wooden paint stirrer.
First, drive a nail halfway through the stirrer, one or two inches up from the bottom. Move on to the next step once you’ve set the nail so that, while its head sticks out on one side, its tip sticks out on the other.
Now turn the frame over and locate the hanging hardware, be it a wire, metal ring, or sawtooth clip. Hook the hanging hardware over the protruding nail head and pick up the frame by means of the stirrer, being careful not to let the frame slide off. The frame should hang securely suspended from the nail, allowing you to place the stirrer against the wall in order to test different placements. In this way, you can easily move the frame a little to the right, up a bit, or down a smidge until you strike upon the look you want.
Once you’ve determined precisely where to locate the frame, remove it from the nail head—without shifting the nail tip. Finally, press the paint stirrer against the wall until the nail tip pokes a little hole in the drywall. That indentation marks where you need to hammer the nail. Once you’ve done so, hook the hanging hardware over the nail again, and you’re all done. Bet you never pictured it could be so easy!
- How To's & Quick Tips >
- Weekend Projects: 5 Creative Ways to Make Your Own Birdhouse
Weekend Projects: 5 Creative Ways to Make Your Own Birdhouse
Create a charming home for the feathered friends in your backyard with one of these easy DIYs that you can make this weekend.
For many, the ideal backyard consists of comfortable seating, picturesque landscaping, and the sights and sounds of colorful, chirping songbirds. Of course, you can’t control the comings and goings of robins, cardinals, and bluejays, but you can certainly make your property more appealing to them with a DIY birdhouse. Of course, there are as many ways of building a birdhouse as there are species of birds. But of all the different designs you might consider, these are some of our top favorites. Scroll down now to see five easy, inexpensive, and endlessly creative approaches to one of the most beloved family-friendly projects of all time.
1. LIGHT HOUSE
For this sleek, ultra-cheap DIY birdhouse, the starting point was a glass, globe-shaped lampshade. Making your own requires nothing more than $12 in supplies. That includes the drawer knob that helps anchor the rope used to hang the finished project from a sturdy tree branch. Go to Bower Power Blog for all the details.
2. MOD POD
With its clean, crisp lines, this non-traditional DIY birdhouse from Built for Kids would perfectly complement the architecture of a modern home. Though mostly made of 2×4 boards, the structure includes at least one striking little detail—the hinged door closes with a tiny swinging latch fashioned from a paint-stirring stick.
3. VINTAGE VILLA
Here’s a DIY birdhouse cleverly adapted from an old-timey mantel clock that was found in a thrift store. Having removed the mechanical workings of the clock, Sadie SeasonGoods padded the interior with wine corks, narrowed the entryway with pre-cut wood, and glued on a small spool to serve as a perch.
4. COUNTRY COTTAGE
Available from Rebecca’s Bird Gardens, this DIY birdhouse kit purposely accommodates only small birds like wrens and chickadees. It stands out for a different reason, though. Topped with a layer of stapled-on chicken wire, the pitched roof holds a layer of potting soil and an overflowing bounty of decorative plantings.
5. CLASSIC CREATION
If you’ve got basic woodworking skills and these detailed step-by-step instructions from Instructables, you can assemble a log cabin-style DIY birdhouse like this one. Even more than the red-painted roof and mini front porch, what clinches its charm are the halved branches that clad the structure and form its unique look.
- How To's & Quick Tips >
- DIY Built-In Bookcases
DIY Built-In Bookcases
The all-too-common problem of too much stuff and too little space drove these crafty bloggers to create a clever built-in that works wonders in their craft room.
A craft room that was overflowing with supplies led the creative minds behind The DIY Village on a search for a large-scale storage solution that was functional and attractive to boot. Enter: the idea for these matching built-in bookcases that corral clutter and add a custom look to the space. Read on to see how they did it.
MATERIALS & TOOLS
- Pockethole jig
- Corner clamp
- Shelf pin jig
- Oscillating cutting tool (optional)
- 1×2 facing strips
- Crown molding
One of the easiest ways to assemble your bookcase frames is by using pocketholes. Using a pockethole jig like a Kreg R3 will make easy work of your assembly. With all of your lumber cut to length, you’ll need to drill pocketholes at the top and bottom of each side. Position and secure the jig in place using a clamp, then using the supplied drill bit, go ahead and drill your pocketholes. When assembling the frame, I find that using a 90-degree corner clamp will keep your pieces of wood from shifting. From this point, simply put together the frame.
Now decide how many adjustable shelves you want above and below the fixed shelf, and utilizing a shelf pin jig, drill the holes for your shelf pins. You’re about ready to install the frame, so now would be a good time to prime as much of your bookcase as you can.
With the basic structure of your bookcase assembled, it’s time to prep the area where you’ll be installing them. You may need to cut out the existing baseboard in order to install the bookcase flush against the wall. If your space requires this kind of prep, consider using an oscillating cutting tool.
Next, position your platform in place and secure it to the wall, preferably into a stud. Then, place the bookcase frame on the platform and secure it as well. (In my configuration, I was able to secure one side to the wall using screws and had to secure the opposite side to the window casing using nails.)
At the top of the bookcase, bridge the gap from the top of the bookcase frame and the ceiling with a piece of 1×6 ripped to the appropriate width. (This will allow for more surface area to nail in your crown molding.) Now is also a good time to add a few coats of paint.
Lastly, you’ll need to caulk any gaps. I find that taping off on both sides of the area you’re caulking will result in a much cleaner caulk line.
Thanks Jacque and Matt! For more great ideas for your home, visit The DIY Village.
- Contests & Give-Aways >
- Enter Bob Vila’s Summer Sunshine Give-Away Today!
Enter Bob Vila’s Summer Sunshine Give-Away Today!
Enter to win two daylighting systems from Solatube, a $1,500 value!
For sun-soaked summer days, many of us head to the park, beach, and even our own backyards. But how many homeowners can appreciate the benefits of daylight from the great indoors? If you win this month’s Summer Sunshine Give-Away you’ll instantly increase your home’s natural light, so you can enjoy the sun’s rays long after summer fades. That’s because we’ve teamed up with Solatube to give one lucky winner two incredible daylighting systems, installation included where available.
Today and every day this month (from 12:00 p.m. EST July 31, 2015 to 11:59 a.m. August 31, 2015), enter to win two Solatube Daylighting Systems worth up to $1,500. See Official Rules below.
If you win this month’s give-away you’ll reap all the rewards of beautiful natural light. Increased sunlight isn’t just a boon for houseplants, but it also helps cut soaring energy costs by minimizing the need for overhead lighting. Not only that, but daylight also has surprising benefits to your mood; studies show that there’s a link between exposure to daylight and a positive outlook and improved sense of well-being.
What makes Solatube the perfect method for adding much needed sunlight into your home is its high-tech delivery system. Unlike traditional skylights, the Solatube units screen infrared rays that can overheat your home, as well as ultraviolet rays that can prematurely fade furniture and fabric. The result is eco-friendly and energy-efficient lighting, without any of the drawbacks of unfiltered sunlight.
So what are you waiting for? Enter Bob Vila’s Summer Sunshine Give-Away today and every day this month for your chance to win a bright new addition for your home.
For more on Solatube and their products, click here.
The “Bob Vila’s “Summer Sunshine Give-Away” is open only to permanent legal U.S. residents of the 50 contiguous states and the District of Columbia. Void in all other geographic locations. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Contest Period runs from 12:00 p.m. (EST) Friday, July 31st, 2015 and ends at 11:59 a.m. EST on Monday, August 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. See Official Rules.
- Flooring & Stairs >
- Bob Vila Radio: Use a Hairdryer to Fix Torn Vinyl Flooring
Bob Vila Radio: Use a Hairdryer to Fix Torn Vinyl Flooring
Resilient though it may be, vinyl flooring isn't invincible. Fortunately, you don't always need to replace the installation if it gets damaged. Plenty of homeowners have fixed unsightly, trip-triggering tears with this clever, inexpensive trick.
If your vinyl flooring (or linoleum) has developed a tear, don’t despair! There’s an easy—and yes, rather unexpected fix—virtually anyone can perform. Here’s how it all works.
Listen to BOB VILA ON REPAIRING TORN VINYL FLOORING or read the text below:
Plug in a hair dryer and switch it to the medium setting. Using a steady back-and-forth motion, warm the damaged area until the flooring feels pliable. Next, gently stretch both sides of the tear inward to close the gap. After that, apply acrylic cement beneath both sections of the torn flooring. For the best adhesion, apply the cement directly to the wood subfloor, if it’s possible to do so. Once you’ve put down the glue—and before the stretched flooring gets the chance to cool and contract—place a heavy object (e.g., a cinder block) over the repair.
When you remove the weight, a thin gap may still appear in the material. If so, head to the local drug store and purchase some nail polish in a color that closely matches the flooring. You may need to brush on several layers of polish, but in the end, you’re likely to be the only one who knows about or notices the patch.
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's & Quick Tips >
- 3 Quick and Clever Ways to Eliminate Dust
3 Quick and Clever Ways to Eliminate Dust
Dust is a constant source of frustration in the home, especially when the classic, time-consuming methods fail to get spaces truly clean. Skip the rags and polish, and try these three tips to make dusting faster, easier, and—dare we say it—more fun.
Dusting used to mean lazily moving about the house with an old T-shirt and furniture polish in hand, loathing the amount of effort it took to bring a shine every surface. While certain rules are set in stone—working from the top to bottom, for instance—there are, believe it or not, smart and often overlooked ways to relieve the tedium and add a bit of fun to a chore that so many dread. Next time you’re stuck with dusting duty, look to these easy fixes to get the job done—fast!
1. BLOWN AWAY
This smart—and on some levels, fun—tip works best with areas that need less attention. Plug in your blow dryer, aim, and blow! The great part about this trick is that it enables you to get into all of the nooks and crannies, unlike a regular dust cloth. Start from the top of the room and work your way down, blowing the dust onto the ground. Once you’re done, simply vacuum it up. While the vacuum is out, also consider using the upholstery attachment to take care of any dust that is hiding out on curtains or upholstery.
2. WIPE OUT
Just like these handy sheets prevent clothes from clinging together in the wash, they also keep dust from sticking to the surfaces of your home. Simply swipe them over blinds, baseboards, the tops of tall furniture, or any spot where dust tends to accumulate. As a bonus, this trick lets you eliminate a step in the dusting process; instead of throwing them in the laundry like you would a microfiber cloth, simply toss the sheet in the trash when you’re finished.
3. SHAKE IT OFF
Believe it or not, a powerful combination that helps draw dust out of oft-overlooked fabric items is hiding right in your pantry: baking soda and a trash bag. Place items like throw pillows or stuffed animals into a large trash bag. Add a cup of baking soda, shake it up, and then let it sit for about thirty minutes. Pull the items out and brush them off, sucking up any excess baking soda with your vacuum and upholstery attachment. In addition to getting Teddy dust-free, the baking soda will also deodorize, making these subtly stinky items smell so much better.
- Tools & Workshop >
- Genius! Turn a Plastic Fork into a Tiny Screwdriver
Genius! Turn a Plastic Fork into a Tiny Screwdriver
Before you head out to buy a specialized tiny screwdriver for your smallest of screws, try crafting your own with these genius DIY instructions—all for free!
Instructables user deluges, a self-described amateur tinkerer, has nothing against custom screws—just the added cost and hassle to remove them. Found on window guards, door locks, license plates, IKEA furniture, game consoles, laptops, glasses and more, these tiny screws are designed to be tamper-resistant. So how did he deal with the custom screws that needed to be removed before he could clean the inside of his laptop? He crafted his own screwdriver for the purpose by melting and reshaping a plastic fork!
Lucky for us, this handy man shared his money-saving trick with the rest of the Web. To follow his lead, all you need is a lighter, a plastic fork, and a little MacGyver spirit. Start by breaking off a tine of your plastic fork. Heat the plastic tip with the flame for about 30 seconds. Then, before the plastic has a chance to cool and harden, push the tip into the screw head. Press down firmly to create a clean, deep impression of the screw, holding your new custom screwdriver in place for a minute or two before gently pulling it off. Is the plastic still warm to the touch? To harden it in a hurry, dip the tool in cold water and you can get to work.
This works best on screws that are small but not impossibly tight, potentially saving you an unnecessary trip to The Home Depot or a custom repair shop. Give it a go next time you’re stuck—since it’s free, you’ve got nothing to lose. In the words of one impressed commenter: “This is genius… 1,000 thumbs up.” We couldn’t agree more.
FOR MORE: Instructables