Category: Tools & Workshop


Bob Vila Radio: A Simple Tweak for Any Caulk Gun

Given its purpose and common applications, caulk often needs to go places where the gun doesn't fit. In those situations, you can extend the reach of the tool using this simple, ingenious trick.

Your good old caulk gun is a user-friendly tool—until you need to use it in a tight spot (say, the back side of a toilet). What to do? Here’s one idea: Make yourself a flexible extension to attach to the nozzle.

Caulking Toilet

Photo: fotosearch.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 CAULKING HARD-TO-REACH PLACES or read the text below:

It’s simple! Head to the hardware store and pick up some clear plastic tubing at least a foot-and-a-half long. Choose tubing with an interior diameter of a quarter inch.

Gently work one end of the tube onto the tip of the caulk, then cut the other end of the tube at an angle—the same angle you’d cut into the dispensing tip of a normal tube of caulk.

Now, squeeze the trigger of the caulk gun until you see the caulk nearing the end of the extension tube. Bend the tube to your target area and dispense as usual. If the tight quarters produce some wobbles in your line of caulk, no worries. Just use a wet finger to smooth the imperfections.

Done? Finish by detaching the extension tube and cleaning it with a small wooden dowel. That way, the tube will be clear and ready for use next time.

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 Academy—Enroll Today!

Become a student in Bob Vila Academy and learn the basics of home improvement the fun and easy way.

Bob Vila Academy

When it comes to home improvement, we could all use a mentor—someone to guide us through the process and offer hints and tricks along the way. Well, the help we all need has finally arrived—Bob Vila Academy. A brand-new digital workshop, Bob Vila Academy includes exclusive, project-based video courses hosted by the next-generation of DIY experts. Gain new skills, raise your confidence level, have fun and—yes—make things. We’ll help!

ENROLL IN BOB VILA ACADEMY

Bob Vila Academy already offers a range of courses, with new ones every month. Enroll in your favorites today, and let the instructor of each course take you through every step of the project, from start to finish, while teaching you the techniques needed to succeed. Courses include:

• Building a concrete top for your bathroom vanity. Course instructor Pete lays out the basics of working with one of the most versatile and durable materials on the planet.

• Crafting a new wall sconce. Here, course instructor Isabelle explains how to weave your own stylish shade and wire up a light fixture, without having to hire an electrician.

Creating functional wall art. Discover the fun of working with reclaimed wood, as course instructor Tanya demonstrates how to build a home accent you can proudly put on display.

What are you waiting for? Visit Bob Vila Academy to preview each course and enroll!

Bob Vila Academy - Coin Vault


Bob Vila Radio: Add Security with Tamper-Proof Screws

How secure is your home, if it would only take a thief with a Philips-head to gain access? Tamper-proof security fasteners add a layer of much-needed protection.

For years, companies have been trying to keep one step ahead of vandals and thieves by manufacturing so-called security fasteners, removable only with specialized tools. Predictably, the bad guys keep finding workarounds.

Security Fasteners

Photo: fotosearch.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 SECURITY FASTENERS or read the text below:

There are now dozens of security fasteners on the market. Some of the more effective crime-busters are those with a protruding pin in the middle of an otherwise conventional screw head. Another popular type—referred to as “snake eye” fasteners—features only two small indentations on top. Still another has no slots or indentations at all, leaving the would-be thief to see only a flat, slightly-out-of-round head. And, of course, there are always reverse-thread fasteners. These are designed so that when crooks try to screw them out, they’re actually making them tighter.

Shop your local home center for many of these fasteners, along with the tools that fit them. For some of the more exotic security fasteners, though, you’ll need to go to specialized suppliers.

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: 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

Photo: fotosearch.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 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

Photo: fotosearch.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 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

Photo: fotosearch.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 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

Photo: fotosearch.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 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

Photo: fotosearch.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 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

Photo: handy.com

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

Photo: handy.com

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

Photo: handy.com

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

Photo: flickr.com