Category: How To’s & Quick Tips


How To: Get Rid of Squirrels

Most of the time, squirrels are completely benign, but in some situations, they can cause considerable damage. If you want to put an end to your squirrel problem, don't miss our five-point action plan.

How to Get Rid Of Squirrels

Photo: fotosearch.com

Don’t let the bushy tails fool you. They may be cute and and bright-eyed, but if left unchecked, squirrels can do an impressive amount of damage, not only to your garden, but also to your home (particularly the attic and eaves). While there’s no quick and easy way to get rid of squirrels, you can do a number of things to slowly shoo away these mischievous creatures. Whether you’re responding to an existing squirrel problem or seeking to prevent one, read on for a five-step action plan.

How to Get Rid of Squirrels - Tree Branch

Photo: fotosearch.com

1. Focus on food.
If the neighborhood squirrels seem to be more interested in your house than in the one next door, it only makes sense to investigate the reason why. First things first, scan your property for an obvious food source, such as a bird feeder. Even if mounted on a tree or atop a pole, bird feeders are well within reach of squirrels, agile animals capable of jumping eight to ten feet with relative ease. If not going to go great heights in search of food, squirrels are just as likely to dig for it. Garden bulbs, in particular, are vulnerable. In lieu of protecting your flower beds with chicken wire, consider planting strategically placed daffodils. Since these perennials are poisonous to squirrels, they act as effective deterrents.

2. Prevent passage.
Everyone knows that squirrels are expert climbers. What you may not have realized is that, by banding tree trunks with plastic or metal collars (sometimes known as baffles), you can prevent squirrels from progressing along those routes that afford access to vulnerable areas, such as the overhang of your roof.

3. Opt for odors.
To augment your other efforts, hang ammonia-soaked rags on the branches squirrels seem to favor. Doing so has proven moderately successful for Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek, CA. Alternatively, you can purchase and spread predator urine, available for sale at garden supply stores or home centers. The downside is that such treatments must be reapplied after every rainfall.

4. Count on chemicals.
There are many chemical repellents on the market that work well to get rid of squirrels. Look for products containing the active ingredient capsaicin. While some homeowners choose to spray repellent near entry points to the attic, others go a step further and apply it directly to bulbs before planting.

5. Trap and relocate.
A last option—perhaps a futile one—is the use of live-catch traps. Even when baiting the trap with a squirrel favorite like peanuts, expect to wait a few days for the trap to become a familiar part of the environment, something the squirrels feel comfortable investigating. Once that introductory period has passed, be sure to check the trap twice daily. If you trap a squirrel, act quickly to relocate it from your property to a suitable location at least three miles away, preferably across a major highway or large body of water.

Before doing anything else, the wise course is to check in with your local fish and game department, since various municipal and/or state laws may govern the treatment of squirrels where you live. In California, for example, it’s illegal to trap gray squirrels without a permit. Note that some of the heaviest regulations pertain to the use of rodenticides. For that reason alone, putting aside all ethical questions, it’s recommended that you rely solely on nontoxic control methods.


Quick Tip: Keep Cut Flowers Fresh Longer

Although there's no fountain of youth for cut flowers, you can boost their longevity with these uncomplicated, time-tested tips.

How to Keep Cut Flowers Fresh

Photo: shutterstock.com

It’s amazing to witness, time and time again, how much brightness and cheer a simple vase of flowers can introduce to a room. Unfortunately, like other forms of beauty, bouquets are a fleeting treat, and it’s only a matter of days before they wilt away and die. Though you cannot prevent the inevitable, there are a few ways to forestall it. First, check to see whether the florist included a packet of flower food with your purchase. Believe it or not, that stuff actually works. If there’s no flower food available—if, for instance, you cut the flowers in your own garden—try one of these time-tested tricks to keep cut flowers fresh just a little bit longer.

How to Keep Cut Flowers Fresh - Snips

Photo: shutterstock.com

1. Container Conscious
Since bacteria and fungi accelerate the natural deterioration of cut flowers, it’s imperative to wash—thoroughly wash—whatever vessel you’re planning to display your blooms in. When cleaning the container, use hot and soapy water. Or, if you like, disinfect the vessel with a solution of diluted household bleach (one part bleach for every 10 parts water). Finish up by rinsing with plain water.

2. Careful Cutting
Clipping flowers from your garden? Try to do so early in the morning, before the heat of day saps any vigor from the blooms. Along with your pruner, remember to bring a bucket of tepid water. As you cut each flower, place it into the bath so as to prevent the end of the stem from drying out and sealing off.

If working with store-bought flowers, remove about one inch from the bottom of each stem. Make your cut at angle, under a running tap. Shortening the stem encourages the flower to take up water again Before setting your bouquet into its container, remove the lower leaves to minimize decay.

3. Feeding Frenzy
Rather than simply filling your chosen container with water, many recommend keeping cut flowers suspended in a solution comprised of one part lemon-lime soda, three parts water, and, for every quart of liquid, a quarter-teaspoon of household bleach. Don’t use diet soda; the full-calorie sugar provides valuable nourishment to the flowers. Meanwhile, the bleach keeps harmful bacteria at bay.

Having taken all the right steps toward keeping your cut flowers flesh, go ahead and set them out on a surface in your home. Be aware, however, that not all surfaces are equally conducive to flower longevity. Avoid putting blooms in direct sunlight, near heating vents, or next to heat-generating appliances.


DIY Copper Towel Rack

The shape and weight of copper pipe makes it a no-brainer for this industrial towel rack in a sleek bathroom remodel.

DIY Copper Towel Rack

Jesse, from Nine Red had a lackluster bathroom that needed a remodel, but cheaply. Neutral tones and wood accents were chosen to bring the space to life, but the sheen of the copper towel rack steals the show. Find out how to make your own stunningly simple towel bar.

MATERIALS

- 2 Half-inch floor flanges
- 2 Half-inch copper male adapters
- 2 Half-inch copper elbow pieces
- Copper pipe, 1/2” x 5’
- Pipe cutter if you have it
- E-6000 glue
- 8 screws
- Copper spray paint

STEP 1

DIY Copper Towel Rack - measure

First up, you want to measure how wide your rack will be. Cutting the pipe is very easy, so it may be best to measure larger so you can trim down to fit. I wasn’t actually too picky about the width, I just didn’t want it wider than the window. I knew I could center it if it was shorter. Anyway, measure your area, and don’t forget that the elbows will add about 3/4” to each side. While you’re in measuring mode, figure out the distance you want it to stick out from the wall, as we’ll be cutting little pipes for this area. I chose 2 inches.

I lined up with the old towel rack to double check. Keep in mind your flange size.  This is really a “try it on” situation, and adjust accordingly.

STEP 2

DIY Copper Towel Rack - cut

Measure & make your marks on the copper pipe, and let’s get to cutting. It’s so easy. I promise.

STEP 3

DIY Copper Towel Rack - cut pieces

So be sure you’re cutting 3 things. The main width, and 2 equal length pipes for the depth. Moving on, just try it all on—dress rehearsal.

STEP 4

DIY Copper Towel Rack - spray paint

Everything seem good? If not, make your adjustments. If it sticks out too far, just trim a little more off the smaller pipes. Mine seems pretty good, so now it was time to paint. Take these flanges outside after a good cleaning.

STEP 5

DIY Copper Towel Rack - fitted

Hooray, we have copper! Try on the male adapters to see if they need any lubrication. Sometimes the threads can get a little sticky. I wiped a li’l WD-40 in there to help. Next, just assemble.

STEP 6

Here’s where you can learn from my mistake, when I first put these together, it seemed like it was going to hold itself together. As I mounted, it started sliding out, and that’s where the E-6000 comes in. A little dab of that stuff (which glues anything and everything to anything and everything else) on the insides of the pipe connections will keep this puppy sturdy. I did it once it was already on my wall, I bet it’s easier to do it first. But I’m impatient.

STEP 7

DIY Copper Towel Rack - hang

Mounting was simple, 4 standard drywall screws.

DIY Copper Towel Rack - finished

Thanks for sharing, Jesse! For even more how-tos, check out Nine Red.


DIY Copper Pipe Lamp

This surprisingly simple DIY lamp will light up any modern home.

DIY Copper Pipe Lamp

Finding the right lamp for your space can be a challenge, as Angela from Unexpected Elegance knows full well. That’s why she decided design her own lamp using lengths of copper pipe. The result is a geometric and industrial beauty—and it can even serve as a bookshelf. Here’s how you can make your own.

MATERIALS & TOOLS
- 10 ft. piece of 1/2″ copper pipe
- Hack saw or pipe cutter
- Lighting kit with 6″ nipple
- (9) 1/2″ copper tees
- (4) 1/2″ copper elbows
- Metal adhesive
- 3/8″ drill bit and drill

STEP 1

DIY Copper Pipe Lamp - Materials

Cut the pipe, using a hack saw or pipe cutter. See the diagram for the different pieces you will need for this project.

STEP 2

DIY Copper Pipe Lamp - Step 2

Assemble two squares that will fit together. At this stage you just want to make sure it all fits together properly and you don’t need to adjust any of the pieces.

STEP 3

DIY Copper Lamp - Step 3

Using a 3/8″ drill bit, drill a hole close to the bottom of one of the 12″ pieces. This will be the hole for the cord.

STEP 4

DIY Copper Pipe Lamp Kit

Before you glue the pieces together, run the cord through the pipes. It’s easiest to separate the pipes first and run it through them one at a time.

STEP 5

Then use a little bit of the adhesive on each joint, except the 5 1/2″  pipe that will hold the light socket. Pay special care around the joints with the cord. I used Strong Stik and it takes 10 minutes to set so it allowed me to make adjusts to the pipes as I went. Make sure you wipe off any excess adhesive. Let it dry over night so that none of pipes move as you are assembling the rest of the light kit.

STEP 6

DIY Copper Lamp - wiring

Assemble the lighting kit per the directions on the package but make sure the nipple is 6″. Thread it through the 5 1/2″ pipe and secure it with the nut. Then run the wire up through. Finally wrap each exposed wire around the two screws on the socket and tighten.

STEP 7

DIY Copper Lamp - finished

I added a little something extra to my lamp shade, too! I just free-handed the word shine with gold paint on the bottom.

Thanks for sharing, Angela! To find even more incredible DIYs, visit Unexpected Elegance.


DIY Copper Pipe Shelves

Slimline copper pipe shelves add a touch of whimsy to any wall and, boy, are they easy to make!

DIY Copper Shelves - Thumbs Up

Amy from Delineate Your Dwelling had a set of copper pipe hooks sitting—and sitting—in her garage for months. Then suddenly inspiration struck: DIY shelves. She got to work bringing her idea to life by combining cork coasters and thin copper piper hooks into a great-looking and totally easy decor element for her home. Here’s how she did it.

DIY Copper Pipe Shelves - Materials

MATERIALS

- Copper pipe hooks 1/2″ x 6″
- Cork coasters
- Scissors
- Cardboard
- Washi tape

STEP 1

DIY Copper Pipe Shelves - cardboard

The first thing I did was cut my cork coasters in half. They were a little flimsy, so I traced the coaster onto some cardboard to act as support backing.

STEP 2

DIY Copper Shelves - Glue

I then used hot glue to secure the cork and cardboard. Then, I made a little mark on the under side as to where my copper pipe bends would sit. A little hot.glue was applied.

STEP 3

DIY Copper Shelves - Washi tape

I decided I wanted a little bit of color, so I added some washi tape to the top of each shelf.

DIY Copper Shelves - finished

Wow! Thanks, Amy. You can find even more great projects at Delineate Your Dwelling.


DIY Copper Pipe iPad Holder

Bring a touch of elegance to your tech life with this stunning—and simple—copper pipe iPad stand.

Bob Vila Thumbs Up - Copper

DIY Copper Pipe iPad Holder

A trip to the hardware store found Laurel from A Bubbly Life face-to-face with some very promising copper pipe fittings. After a brief DIY project, she had her own copper iPad stand to make cooking from recipes a snap. Read on for a simply brilliant tutorial suitable for makers of any skill level.

MATERIALS & TOOLS

- 1/2″ copper tubing
- Tubing cutter
- (2) 90-degree elbows
- (2) Street elbows
- (2) Tees
- (4) Pipe caps
- Glue

STEP 1

DIY Copper Pipe iPad Holder - materials

Make your cuts (measurements: (1) 8-inch; (2) 4-inch; (2) 6-inch; (2) 1-inch). My measurements are based on the 3rd generation iPad but I checked the specs on the iPads and it would work with any iPad.

STEP 2

DIY Copper iPad Holder - glue

Glue the 8-inch and 6-inch pieces to the street elbows. Glue the tees to the bottom of the 6-inch pieces.

STEP 3

 

DIY Copper iPad Holder - gluing

Glue the 4-inch and 1-inch pieces to the tee. Glue the street elbows to the end of the 4 inch pieces.

STEP 4

DIY Copper Pipe iPad - end caps

Glue pipe caps to each exposed pipe.

DIY Copper Pipe iPad Holder - finished

Thanks, Laurel! For more great looking DIY projects, be sure to stop by A Bubbly Life.


DIY Copper Clock

The industrial charm of copper pipe lends itself perfectly to this work of functional art.

DIY Copper Pipe Clock

When Amanda from Dwelling in Happiness took on a blogger challenge took on to create a gift using a copper pipe “t,” she was stumped. But only for a moment. It wasn’t long before she used her ingenuity to build her own copper pipe and wooden clock. What a beauty! Here’s how she made it.

MATERIALS & TOOLS

- 8×8 Wooden painting panel/canvas
- Clock mechanism (we used one for a 3/8 thick face, but in retrospect, a 1/4 thick face would be better!)
- 1/2 inch thick copper pipe (5 foot long—ours shown above is already cut to size)
- Copper pipe cutting tool
- (4) 1/2 inch copper pipe “t’s”
- (4) 1/2 inch copper pipe 90 degree elbows
- (4) 1/2 inch copper pipe caps
- Drill
- Gorilla glue & Elmer’s glue
- Wood stain & Polycrylic sealer
- White paint
- Ruler

STEP 1

DIY Clock - Stained Wood

I stained my wooden panel with some leftover Americana gel stain in Walnut, and then applied a thin layer of the polycrylic sealer when the stain dried. I sanded it lightly on top.

STEP 2

DIY Copper Pipe Clock - cutting pipe

While the sealer dries on the wood panel, use this amazing pipe cutting tool and cut your pipe into eight 3 1/4 inch sections of pipe. These measurements are for an 8×8 clock, but if you want to make a bigger clock you’ll have to remeasure how much pipe you want between the t’s and elbows. I wanted my pipes to hang over the wood just a tad and the cover the wood corners. I measured my pieces accordingly.

STEP 3

I was going to originally leave the t’s “open” to be the 3, 6, 9, and 12 clock number notches, but I thought it looked funny having them open. So, I decided to cut small pipes and add caps. I cut my remaining pipe into four 1 1/4 inch pieces.

STEP 4

DIY Copper Pipe Clock - glue

Since all the pipe would be glued down to the wood, I wasn’t real meticulous on gluing all the pipes together. I just used Elmers glue and put a little inside of each of the connecting pieces (the t’s, elbows, and caps).

STEP 5

DIY Copper Pipe Clock - fitted

Keep gluing the pieces together, all the while pushing the pipes together tightly to make sure they all fit snuggly. When it’s all glued together, it should look like this. Now for the actual clock part!

STEP 6

Before putting the clock altogether, I painted the hour, minute and second hands as well as the washers all white. I was going to paint them copper to match the pipe, but it would have been hard to see them against the dark wood. You can paint them any color you’d like. White showed up really nicely against the wood!

STEP 7

To find the center to drill your hole, use a ruler to measure corner to corner and make a little mark in the very center. You should have two marks that overlap or are pretty close to it. You can make a little “x.”

Drill a hole where your “x” was, and insert the clock mechanism. Once the hands and pieces are dry, assemble the clock together per the instructions.

STEP 8

DIY Copper Pipe Clock - side view

I had a little issue when I glued the pipes to the wood. I had planned to use Gorilla Glue, but knew it could possibly expand and be seen. And unfortunately, I was right; it expanded out from the pipes and out onto the wood where it was visible. Argh! I was a little upset, but grabbed my Xacto knife and started cutting away the glue that was visible. That worked! For the remaining glue, I used a tiny bit of copper paint and a small brush to paint the glue. It blended up perfectly, and you can’t even tell!

Thanks for tips, Amanda! To read even more inventive projects, click over to Dwelling in Happiness.


Weekend Projects: 5 Sunny DIY Window Seats

What's better than a sunny seat? One with a view! See five cozy takes on the classic window seat—and how to recreate them in your own home.

Seating and storage—is there ever enough of either? Enter the window seat, the dreamy solution that marries function with style. Whether you need an extra chair, a cozy reading nook, or an out-of-sight spot to store blankets, books, or baubles, these multi-use structures offer it all—with a view, to boot! While custom-built benches can run you a pretty penny, you can achieve similar results with a cost-effective DIY. Read on for five projects, ranging from near instant gratification to true labors of love, that will inspire you to take advantage of your own .

 

1. BRING ON THE BOHEMIAN

DIY Window Seat - Bohemian

Photo: thejungalow.com

This cozy nook looks like a built-in, but it’s actually a low-profile chest of drawers nestled against side table in an alcove! When recreating in your own space, know that it’s OK (even better) for your two pieces to not match in height—the cushion atop your chest can even out the two surfaces. Get the bohemian style seen at The Jungalow by using a solid colored fabric for the cushions, then layering ’til your heart’s content with brightly patterned pillows and throws.

 

2. FLOAT AWAY

DIY Window Seat - Float

Photo: instructables.com

For a modern, airy window structure, opt to build suspended seating. You won’t have the luxury of hidden storage, but the wall-mounted benches take up zero floor space and are visually light on the eyes. The best part? This easy DIY has just four steps: install heavy-duty brackets, lay out your wooden base, paint, and dress with cushions. Voila! Get the complete tutorial at Instructables.

 

3. CREATE A CLASSIC

DIY Window Seat - Classic

Photo: shanty-2-chic.com

Forget about paying retail when you can make a catalog knockoff of a pint-size storage bench using your own two hands. Aside from the actual materials, a few specialty tools will go long way to make this project go smoothly: Whitney from Shanty 2 Chic swears by her Kreg Jig, Right Angle Clamp, and Ryobi Jig Saw. Visit the girls at the Shanty for a well-photographed journey, then hop on over to Ana-White.com for the free plans.

 

4. REPURPOSE AND RELAX

DIY Window Seat - Storage Bench

Photo: fourgenerationsoneroof.com

Building from scratch doesn’t always mean starting at square one—if this isn’t your first DIY rodeo, you likely already have a fair amount of supplies and materials at hand. This bench from Four Generations One Roof makes use of almost entirely leftover materials, like scrap pine from previous projects and even repurposed pillows covered with coordinating fabric. So, go assess your workshop: What’s on your hands? It won’t take you long to put together this endlessly functional chest using glue blocks for support and nails for reinforcement.

 

5. BUILD A BAY BEAUTY

DIY Window Seat - Bay

Photo: prettyhandygirl.com

A bay window makes the perfect spot for a sunny seat, but its unique shape requires a little extra custom work. Although this particular project from Pretty Handy Girl appears somewhat advanced, you can certainly handle it if you have some basic carpentry skills under your belt. As always, just remember: Measure twice, cut once! And in the end, you’ll bask in the sunlight of your new dining nook, complete with lots of sneaky storage space.


DIY Copper Pipe Desk

With a high DIY IQ and a little ingenuity this blogger turned plain copper pipes and wooden boards into an amazing double-wide desk.

DIY Copper Pipe Desk

What’s not to love about copper? Katie from Upcycled Treasures loves DIYing with copper pipes, so when she got an idea for a copper pipe desk, she set aside concerns of cost and forged ahead. She knew that copper pipes were less sturdy than industrial black pipe for holding heavy weight like a thick wooden tabletop, so she chose a thin and light wood for the top of her desk. Read on to see how she did it. 

TOOLS & MATERIALS

- Jig
- Drill
- Ryobi Airstrike
- Belt sander
- Pipe cutter
- (2) 3/4 in x 10 ft copper pipe
- (6) 3/4 in copper tube cap
- (9) 3/4 in copper tee
- (5) 3/4 in copper male adapter
- (6) 3/4 in black malleable iron threaded floor flange
- Epoxy
- (5) 1 in x 6 in x 8 ft common board
- (3) Common 1×2 furring strip board
- (3) Pieces of wood for supports
- Wood glue

STEP 1

The first thing you will want to do when you get your pipe home is clean it up. Steel wool works great for getting the stickers off and you can use (high acetone) nail polish remover to get rid of the red or blue markings on it.

STEP 2

Copper Pipe Desk Measurements - Thumbs Up

I had made a drawing of what I wanted the desk to look like (before I went and purchased my materials), then laid everything out on the ground and slowly started assembling the pieces. You could build your desk first and then go back and add the epoxy later once you know everything is perfect, but you may need help standing it up and secure while you put the other pieces in place. Once you add epoxy be sure to wait a good 30 minutes or so before moving it around so that it has time to set. I assembled one side, then the other and then attached both to the center last.

STEP 3

Wood Top Copper Pipe Desk - Thumbs Up

Once the base was built I starting working on the top of the desk. I didn’t want anything too heavy so I created a top using (5) 1 x 6 boards that were cut to 80″ long each. Make sure you pick out straight boards as that can really effect the outcome of your desk top.

STEP 4

Cutting Wood Boards for DIY Desk - Thumbs Up

I cut the boards and also cut 3 pieces of scrap wood to be 28.5″ long. These 3 pieces were to go underneath the table to create more support, and also so that I could screw the flanges into them.

STEP 5

Cutting Top Copper Pipe Desk - Thumbs Up

I also cut some 1 x 2 fir strips so that I could frame the desk top with them. After everything was cut to size I used the Kreg Jig to attach the 1×6 pieces to one another.

STEP 6

Gluing DIY Desk - Thumbs Up

Once the top was built I used our Ryobi Airstrike to attach the 3 wood supports to the bottom and also to attach the framed edges around the top.

STEP 7

DIY Copper Pipe Desk - Thumbs Up

I then sanded the whole thing down with a belt sander.

Looks great, Katie! If you liked this project, check out more DIY ideas at Upcycled Treasures.


Genius! Boards and Brackets Create a Window Haven

Constraints beget creativity, as evidenced by the simple, useful, modest, and unexpected refined DIY breakfast nook one blogger devised when short on space.

DIY Breakfast Nook

Photo: offbeatandinspired.com

Last year, Tiffany left her roomy rental house for a compact apartment closer to downtown. Though ideally located, the apartment offered limited space—not simply for stuff, but also for activities. At her old place, Tiffany had loved to host occasional guests; to do the same in her comparatively cramped new digs, she would need to get creative. After weeks of brainstorming, she struck upon the idea for what would become a DIY furniture equivalent to a Swiss Army knife.

It’s a breakfast nook. It’s a dining area, desk, and project area. It’s all of those things. It’s genius. Here, in one corner of her apartment, Tiffany created a sunny, versatile zone in which to do everything she feared there wouldn’t be enough room for. The best part? Once she had figured out the design, the rest was easy. Tiffany spent under $200, but theoretically, you could ratchet down costs to a minimum by opting for low-cost shelf brackets and pair of secondhand stools.

DIY Breakfast Nook - Shelf Bracket

Photo: offbeatandinspired.com

You can read, in Tiffany’s own words, how she did it. But here’s the gist: Having carefully measured the window area, Tiffany decided the desired dimensions for her table. Next, she gathered materials that included two boards cut to the correct width. Because she wanted the table to have some heft, she chose to double-up the boards, placing one on top of the other. With wood glue, she joined the boards, applying pressure as the adhesive set. Then she secured the bond with screws.

Bracket time! To determine the right height for the brackets that would support the table top, Tiffany sat on one of her stools and marked where her knees touched the window trim. That’s where, with a couple inches added for leg room, she drilled in the brackets. Next, she placed the table top into position on the brackets, then screwed the two together from below, adding stability. Last, Tiffany finished things off with a soft wax that really brings out the knots and texture of the wood.

FOR MORE: Offbeat and Inspired

DIY Breakfast Bar - View 2

Photo: offbeatandinspired.com