Category: Tools & Workshop


Bob Vila Radio: Stainless vs. Galvanized Steel

Though both are undeniably strong and durable, stainless and galvanized steel each have vulnerabilities that make one or the other a more suitable choice, depending on the application.

Have you ever wondered which holds up better against the elements, stainless or galvanized steel? Well, that depends on several factors.

Galvanized Steel vs Stainless Steel

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Listen to BOB VILA ON GALVANIZED AND STAINLESS STEEL or read the text below:

Galvanized steel is coated with a thin layer of zinc that helps guard against corrosion. It’s commonly used in nails, screws, bolts, nuts and other kinds of fasteners. Galvanized steel usually stands up well to water exposure—as long as it’s not salt water.

Stainless steel, on the other hand, is made by adding chromium to molten steel. Because of its strength and resistance to rust, stainless is the primary metal used in construction. Stainless doesn’t mind water, even if it’s salty, so it’s great for marine environments.

You should stay away from stainless, though, if there’s any chance two pieces might come into contact with one another. Friction can rub through the coatings and cause the two parts to weld together. And don’t use stainless steel around pools or other places where it might be exposed to chlorine. Chlorine degrades the coating on the metal and causes rust.

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.


Bob Vila Radio: Removing a Wall Anchor

They make it a cinch to mount artwork and keepsakes, but removing wall anchors can be a tricky task. Here are some pointers.

Wall anchors allow you to hang almost anything almost anywhere. But what does one do to remove a wall anchor?

Removing Wall Anchors

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Listen to BOB VILA ON REMOVING WALL ANCHORS or read the text below:

If there’s a screw in the anchor, remove it. Next, inspect the anchor closely. If it’s made of plastic and features a plus-sign-shaped slot on its end, insert a Phillips screwdriver and turn it to the left. If the anchor binds on the way out, give it a gentle pull with your needle-nose pliers. If it still remains stuck, slip the edge of a putty knife under the collar of the anchor, then tap the handle of the knife until it slices off the collar. Finally, poke an awl into the anchor and give it a tap or two, pushing the anchor in the cavity of the wall.

For metal anchors, you’ll probably do better using your needle-nose pliers to grab the collar of the anchor and gently bend and twist it until it pops off. You can then tap what remains of the anchor into the wall cavity. Now, all you’ll need to a little joint compound and light sanding to make that hole disappear!

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.


Bob Vila Radio: The Right Way to Hammer

There's a hammer in most every home, but few do-it-yourselfers recognize the a tool as potentially dangerous. Follow these safety precautions in the future.

There may be no tool more basic than the humble hammer. But however straightforward it may be in design and utility, there are still some important safety considerations to bear in mind when using one.

Hammer Safety

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Listen to BOB VILA ON HAMMER SAFETY or read the text below:

Perhaps most important: Before you start swinging, take a minute to check that the handle isn’t loose or cracked. Then take another minute to put on your safety glasses. You should never strike any object without eye protection in place.

Also, never use a steel claw hammer to strike hardened steel, stone, or concrete. Doing so may chip the face of the hammer and launch metal shards toward you or bystanders.

If you’re working anywhere near exposed electrical wiring or other energized components, choose a hammer with an insulated handle. And whenever hammering a moveable object, such as a two-by-four or small sheet of plywood, first secure the material by means of a clamp or vise.

Finally, before you make your first swing, make sure no one—including you—is the way of the swing path!

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.


Bob Vila Radio: The Right Caulk for the Job

Rather than settle for an all-purpose product, choose a caulk specifically designed for the type of project you're tackling.

Few items in the toolbox can help you out more than a caulk gun. And one thing you may not know is that, even though lots of manufacturers offer “do it all” caulk, you’re likely to get better results with a product formulated especially for the task at hand.

Choosing the Right Caulk

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Listen to BOB VILA ON CHOOSING CAULK or read the text below:

For example, caulks for kitchens and baths contain added ingredients that fight mildew, while adhesive caulks are great for joining materials. Window and door caulks, meanwhile, excel in sealing unwanted openings.

And what about concrete sealant? There’s nothing better to fill the cracks that show up in sidewalks and driveways. Still other options include asphalt sealant and gutter and flashing sealant. There’s even a specialty caulk designed to help block the spread of fire.

So next time you head to the home center to pick up some caulk, make sure you allow a little extra time to look for the product that’ll give you the best performance.

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.


Bob Vila Radio: Safe Setup for Extension Ladders

Extension ladders can be more dangerous than useful, if you're not careful, so remember these rules of thumb.

For committed do-it-yourselfers, extension ladders are a must-have. When you’re using them, though, it’s important to keep a few safety pointers in mind.

How to Use an Extension Ladder

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Listen to BOB VILA ON EXTENSION LADDER SAFETY or read the text below:

First, never try to set up an extension ladder when it’s extended. Instead, position the ladder where you want it, then raise the upper half at least three feet above the roof line. Make sure the bottom of the ladder is angled out about a quarter of its height.

Don’t try shifting the position of the ladder, even slightly, while you’re standing on it. Better to make an extra trip down to move the ladder properly. And be sure you stay well clear of any overhead electrical wires when you’re moving the ladder, especially if it’s a metal ladder. Forgetting that could cost you your life.

Finally, make sure you don’t position the bottom of the ladder in front of a door that opens outward. Sure, that may seem like a no-brainer, but such mishaps send people to the hospital every year.

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.


Hire the Home Help You Need—Instantly

When you don't know have the time, interest, or know-how to take on one of life's many chores, turn to Handy for help.

Handy Instant Booking

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Today, Americans buy everything from groceries to furniture over the Internet without thinking twice. But what’s true of products hasn’t been true of services, at least not so far. However, it stands to reason that perhaps millions of people would appreciate the convenience of booking cleaning and repair appointments with click-of-a-button ease. Or so thinks Oisin Hanrahan, a founder of Handy, a four-year-old company that seeks to become “the Uber of home maintenance”.

Using the Handy site or its companion mobile app, customers are able to book a maid, plumber, electrician or general handyman in mere minutes. On the strength of that convenience, the company has expanded to 37 locations, including most major U.S. cities. Though its growth has been rapid and wide-reaching, Handy hasn’t wavered in its mission. Hanrahan, who once dabbled in real estate, knows it’s a hassle to find reliable pros. Handy exists to simplify that search.

Handy Instant Booking - App Screenshots

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Here’s how it works: After filling out an online form with basic information, you receive a list of qualified local pros and price quotes for the task you want tackled, be it painting, plumbing, housecleaning or something else you don’t want, or don’t know how, to do. (You can even hire someone to assemble that “simple” wall unit you bought from IKEA.) As early as seven the next morning, the work you ordered can be underway—with a 100% money-back satisfaction guarantee.

Not surprisingly, Handy has been party to no small amount of buzz. For instance, Forbes ranked the company among the “Hottest Startups” last year. Meanwhile, it’s also witnessed negative press, some of it in connection with a lawsuit over alleged labor-code violations. There may be some critical kinks left to work out, but for time-starved homeowners and renters, there’s reason to hope that Handy ultimately succeeds, because, well, the whole thing sounds pretty handy, doesn’t it?

Handy Instant Booking - Animated Gif

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For more information, visit Handy.


Genius! Prop Up a Pallet for Instant Shed Organization

Want to whip your shed into shape at next to no cost? This pallet project offers lots of organization for your bulkiest of garden tools, for only a little bit of effort.

Photo: flickr.com

Among shots of cats napping on windowsills and family vacations, there’s a wealth of DIY ideas on Flickr. This one, shared by Nic Robinson, shows a perfectly simple addition for a shed that lacks built-in storage. You might even have the necessary materials stashed in your garage left over from your last pallet project! While pallets are often broken down for wooden slats or used together as building blocks in a larger construction, the beauty of this truly clever design is that it relies on a single, intact pallet and requires no additional construction. So long as you stand it so the outside slats run horizontally, this structure is ready to corral outdoor tools.

If you don’t already have a pallet on hand, you can often pick one up for free at most garden, grocery, and home improvement stores, if you ask nicely. While you’re out, purchase some wood screws—they’re the only other materials you’ll need for this project. Once you get the pallet home, remove any extra nails and sand down splintered edges until the wood is smooth. Then, grab your drill and secure the pallet to the wall with the wood screws. It’s that easy!

Store rakes, shovels, and brooms in the shipping pallet’s hollow center. And don’t forget about the horizontal slats! You can use those to hang garden gloves and a rag—handy in the unlikely event you break a sweat finishing this DIY.

FOR MORE: Gardenista

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Meet the Women Who Are Changing the Face of Fine Furniture

First friends and creative collaborators, then ultimately business partners, the all-female founders of the Egg Collective furniture design company are bucking convention and succeeding in what'd been, until now, a male-dominated industry.

Egg Collective

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Stephanie Beamer, Crystal Ellis, and Hillary Petrie are the founders of Egg Collective, a furniture design firm that’s been making waves since it launched four years ago. Though based in New York, the company’s roots are in St. Louis, where the trio met as freshmen architecture students at Washington University. Back then, they likely never would have guessed that together, they would start any sort of business, let alone one that would achieve rapid success in a formerly male-dominated industry. All they knew was that their aesthetic tastes overlapped and that when it came to design, they shared a similar, deeply felt philosophy.

As students, the Egg Collective nurtured their earliest concepts through weekly brainstorm sessions held over casual late-night dinners. Post-college, each followed her interests to a different part of the country. Beamer apprenticed with fabricators and finishers in St. Louis and New York. Ellis extended her studies at the Rhode Island School of Design, earning an MFA in Sculpture. Petrie, meanwhile, went to work in a New Orleans cabinet shop. Though now geographically dispersed, Beamer, Ellis, and Petrie kept in touch and continued to exchange creative ideas, not longer in person, but through online video chats.

Egg Collective Stools

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Finally, having spent five years apart, the trio reunited with the goal of making heirloom-quality furniture with a modern sensibility. Though women remain a rare sight in lumber mills and woodworking shops, the all-female Egg Collective never thought twice about gender. Instead, the founders focused on how their individual skill sets mixed, mingled, and complemented one another, making them effective not only as designers and makers, but also as businesspeople. “Like a puzzle, we fit together really well,” Petrie told Martha Stewart, when the magazine honored the Egg Collective with a high-profile American Made award in 2014.

Indeed, for a company that’s still so young, the Egg Collective has won a surprising number of prestigious accolades. And with the opening of a brand-new showroom, plus a partnership with retailer Design Within Reach, the three friends seem poised on the brink of even greater success. Through so much change, their approach has remained the same: Egg Collective continues to craft each piece by hand, placing special emphasis on all that enables furniture to stand the test of time. Petrie says, ”If something is made well and is finished well and detailed well, you can definitely respect that, and I think that inspires a lot of what we do.”

Egg Collective Table

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For more information, visit Egg Collective.


This Company Delivers Houseplants Straight to Your Door

The Sill pairs easy-care houseplants with eye-catching stoneware to create irresistible combinations available for home delivery.

The Sill - Store Interior

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When Eliza Banks lived in student housing as a freshman at NYU, the window in her room looked upon an all-too-familiar urban vista—the brick exterior of the building next door. Having spent her childhood surrounded by nature in rural Massachusetts, Banks had to do something to feel more at home, and fast. Even a tiny houseplant, she knew, would make a huge difference, injecting life into the drab and dreary space. She wasn’t the first to notice that greenery provides a boost to both mood and the look of a room. But where others would merely sigh in appreciation, Banks saw a business opportunity. Five years later, she launched The Sill, a houseplant delivery service that helps New Yorkers do what she did in her dorm—live better among plants.

The Sill - Succulents

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The Sill recognizes that while everyone loves fresh flora, not everyone has the time or the touch for keeping plants alive. So while the company can easily accomodate veteran indoor gardeners, it’s perhaps total beginners who have the most to gain from the service. That’s because throughout the process, from selecting the right species for a specific space to understanding the upkeep, Banks and her staff keep the hassle and stress to a minimum, while never losing sight of the aesthetic priority. Though of course beautiful unto themselves, plants from The Sill are made even more irresistible by the clean, modern stoneware that the company pairs with its offerings and includes with your purchase. Say goodbye to half-dead Philodendron in broken plastic pots!

The Sill - Storefront Exterior Mural

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If you live in New York City, stop by The Sill storefront or shop online for delivery to your door. Don’t live in NYC? Don’t fret! The Sill ships nationwide.

For more information, visit The Sill.


Bob Vila Radio: Pros and Cons of Metal Adhesives

When bonding metals, your best bet, at least in some situations, may be to use nothing more complex than adhesive.

When you want to join two pieces of metal, your first impulse may be to go for a rivet or even a soldering iron. But there are alternatives to consider, one of them being metal adhesives.

Metal Adhesives

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Listen to BOB VILA ON METAL ADHESIVES or read the text below:

Adhesives offer several advantages. Unlike bonding methods that use heat, adhesive don’t cause metals to distort. And since there’s no heat involved, you can use an adhesive to join different pieces of metal, each with different melting points. There are a couple more positives too: Adhesives generally don’t cause discoloration, and you don’t have to pre-drill holes for fasteners.

Adhesives do have some drawbacks, however. There’s usually a bit of surface prep involved and once applied, adhesives may take quite a while before they cure to full strength. When the bond has fully cured, though, you won’t want the job of detaching the two pieces—that could be a major undertaking!

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.