Category: Tools & Workshop


Cool Tools: A Trusty Go-To Gets a Brand-New Twist

That trusted product you've relied on for decades is now armed with an innovative extended applicator that helps you lubricate tricky spots quickly and easily.

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Photo: wd40.com

It’s nothing new. The problem is familiar to anyone whose projects often involve WD-40®. In the course of its decades-long history, the penetrating oil and lubricant has earned its place as a toolbox staple, but in tight spots—beneath the sink, for example, or within a lawn-mower engine—it’s not always easy getting the formula precisely where you want it to go. Most of the time, the stiff, stubby red straw applicator does the job just fine. Now and again, though, its rigidity slows you down.

Photo: wd40.com

But not anymore. In a clever, innovative solution to a longtime source of frustration, the new WD-40® EZ-REACH™ delivers the same product you’ve always depended on, but substitutes the traditional straw for an eight-inch-long, flexible metal hose. Bend it however you like, and the hose holds its shape until you bend it into a new one. Now, you can easily and accurately reach the nooks and crannies that used to be virtually unreachable, and you can speed through steps that used to take you far too much effort and time.

It’s a welcome upgrade, largely because tight spots, close quarters, and lack of access characterize so many of the scenarios where you’d typically use the product. Take, for example, household plumbing: Systems are designed to stay out of the way, hidden behind walls and inside cabinets. To make repairs, you need to get on your knees, on your back, or on tiptoe. It’s never easy, but with WD-40® EZ-REACH™ and its bendable applicator, those tricky jobs don’t have to be so utterly taxing.

Imagine that you need to lubricate the upper hinge of a tall entry door. In the past, you would have had to travel all the way to the truck or garage, haul out the ladder, and spend at least a few moments setting it up safely. Armed with WD-40® EZ-REACH™, the same fixes that used to take several minutes can be done in seconds flat. To get to that top hinge, you’d simply bend the metal hose into a downward-pointing U shape, extend your arm overhead, and press the trigger on the can. That’s it! You’re ready to move on.

Cleanup, too, becomes a breeze. It used to be that pros and do-it-yourselfers would apply WD-40® liberally, spraying the formula all over the general area, hoping that at least some would land on the problem spot. Does that sound familiar? And afterward, you probably went back to wipe up the overspray. This is certainly not the most efficient process. Thanks to WD-40® EZ-REACH™ and the accuracy it provides, you can skip the cleanup altogether and put your valuable time to much better use.

An added bonus: Because the new design enables you to apply the right amount of WD-40® exactly where you need it, you’ll no longer be tempted to use more of the formula than is strictly necessary for the task at hand. In other words, WD-40® EZ-REACH™ eliminates waste, which means that a single can will probably last longer than ever before, so you may be able to go longer between replacements. Over time, those costs really add up, making WD-40® EZ-REACH™ a first choice not only for ease of use, but for savings as well.

In the end, WD-40® EZ-REACH™ delivers on a simple promise to all those who have made the product a household name by relying on it, whether on the job or around the house, for more than six decades. You get the same formula you know and love—the one that has proven itself indispensable time and time again—only now, it’s better than ever, allowing you to reach the formerly unreachable. The stiff, red straw could take you only so far, but with the new flexible hose, there’s no limit on where you can go.

Purchase WD-40® EZ-REACH™ today.

Photo: wd40.com

This post has been brought to you by WD-40®. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


Cool Tools: Is This the Only Adhesive You’ll Ever Need?

With all the specialized adhesives out there, wouldn't it be great if just one tube could do it all? Well, here's one that can tackle most materials, indoors or out, in extreme heat or cold, and even in wet conditions. Sound promising? Read on!

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Photo: liquidnails.com

Imagine that you’ve just spent several hours—the better part of a weekend afternoon—painstakingly adhering ceiling tiles overhead. Moments ago, you set the last square into position, when suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, every single tile crashes to the floor. Ugh! Making the situation all the more frustrating is the irony that the adhesive you were counting on to save time and effort ended up being the reason you wasted both. If there’s a lesson to be learned, it’s simply this: The right adhesive often spells the difference between completing a satisfying, successful project and finding yourself all the way back at square one. The trick is finding the best adhesive for the job.

Photo: liquidnails.com

Liquid Nails Fuze*It promises to be the construction adhesive you can truly depend on for any number of jobs, whether you’re putting up paneling or simply fixing a loose cabinet drawer pull. The remarkable versatility of the product hinges on a hybrid technology that enables Liquid Nails Fuze*It to bond just about everything to just about everything else. In fact, there are only two materials for which it’s not recommended—polyethylene and polypropylene. Otherwise, Liquid Nails Fuze*It works for all the most common household materials, including but not limited to glass, metal, wood, marble, granite, rubber, laminate, tile, and foam.

Equally handy is that Liquid Nails Fuze*It, unlike many other adhesives, remains effective even when it’s in contact with water. If the project calls for it, you can even apply Liquid Nails Fuze*It in the pouring rain, with no sacrifice in the quality of its bond. Further, Liquid Nails Fuze*It can safely withstand punishing environmental extremes, because the adhesive holds fast in temperatures up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit or down to 40 below zero. You may in the past have stocked a slew of different adhesives, each specially formulated for a particular use. Now, with Liquid Nails Fuze*It up to pretty much any task, indoors and out, and effective under even the most challenging conditions, you may need only one adhesive.

Because Liquid Nails Fuze*It creates a bond twice as strong as fasteners alone would, you might suspect that the product would be unwieldy or difficult to work with. But in reality, Liquid Nails Fuze*It makes application convenient for pros and DIYers alike. Case in point: The adhesive offers instant grab, which means that clamping, taping, or otherwise bracing the bond requires neither finesse nor surgical precision. Simply unscrew the nozzle, cut the plastic tip of the nine-fluid-ounce cartridge to the desired bead, screw the nozzle back on, load it into a standard gun, and apply the adhesive. Clamp if necessary, then wait four to six hours for Liquid Nails Fuze*It to set (for porous surfaces). That’s it!

Assuming a quarter-inch bead, you can cover about 27 linear feet with a single cartridge. In other words, unless you are undertaking something extra ambitious, you don’t need to worry about running out of adhesive just when you need it. More important, with Liquid Nails Fuze*It you also don’t need to worry about potential health effects. These days, increasing numbers of contractors and homeowners are concerned about the harmful effects of volatile organic compounds, and justifiably so. You can set these worries aside with Liquid Nails Fuze*It, which carries Greenguard Gold Certification, a designation for products scientifically proven to reduce the risk of indoor air pollution and toxic chemical exposure.

Versatile, strong, and easy to use, Liquid Nails Fuze*It now joins the ranks of adhesives, caulks, and sealants that have made Liquid Nails a go-to choice in building and home improvement for nearly five decades. If your toolbox has room for just one tube, Liquid Nails Fuze*It may be the top contender for that coveted spot—and it’s certainly your best bet for tackling whatever adhesive need is next on your to-do list.

Purchase Liquid Nails Fuze*It exclusively at The Home Depot.

Photo: liquidnails.com

This post has been brought to you by LIQUID NAILS Adhesive. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


Cool Tools: A No-Hassle Cure for Tough Cleaning Dilemmas

As easy to use as it is to wear, the HYDE Quickly Clean Glove is your best bet—and the best buy on the market—for tackling your next cleanup job!

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Quickly Clean Glove with Paintbrush

Photo: thehydeway.com

April showers keep many DIYers indoors working on home maintenance projects large and small, from pepping up interiors with paint to recaulking showers and tubs. Though these home projects can beautify your home, they can also easily coat innocent bystanders—like tools, furniture, windows, floors, counters, or worse, your hands—in residual grime. If your go-to cleanup crew for life’s messes relies on chemical-laden commercial solvents, consider for a moment a safer, more effective natural alternative: the HYDE Quickly Clean Glove. This smart slip-on with a super-strength weave can take oil- or latex-based paint, putty, caulk, dirt, soap scum, and even permanent marker off of any surface without requiring harsh chemicals. Find out how this cleaning companion offers a hands-off solution to spring-cleaning year-round.

Hyde Quickly Clean Glove

Photo: thehydeway.com

Effortless and Economical
The magic of this do-it-all glove lies in its simplicity: Just wet it with water, add a squirt of soap (if desired), and then pull on the one-size-fits-all glove to turn your hand into a powerhouse scrubbing agent. Thanks to the glove’s patented weave, no additional scouring pad is required! Just work your fingers over the dirtied surface. The Quickly Clean Glove acts as an easy-to-control abrasive, so that even gunk on irregular surfaces—like paintbrushes, trowels, and trays as well as your sink, shower, and tub drains—can be wiped away with minimal elbow grease. When your work area is spotless, rinse the handy tool, and hang it to dry until your next job.

More than simply saving you physical energy as you tackle your to-do list, the reusable gloves can also save you money at the hardware store. How? By replacing half of your cart. When the glove’s fibers can remove nearly any amount of mess, there’s no need to load up on commercial paint and varnish strippers, foam and caulk removers, and heated sealant and putty removal tools. Leave the budget-busting and cabinet-crowding specialty cleaners behind as you head for checkout with a single top-of-the-line, bottom-dollar Quickly Clean Glove that can be used again and again.

Natural, Non-damaging, and Non-irritating
Even perfectionist painters will occasionally leave a mark on more than their intended object, often right on their own hands. Should you encounter a similar slip-up, slip on the Quickly Clean Glove and buff your other (uncovered) hand clean without fear of irritating your skin. In fact, the glove is so gentle that it can be used on rugged and sensitive surfaces alike without damaging them.

As easy as the Quickly Clean Glove is on you, it’s equally easy on the environment—both indoors and out. Unlike commercial cleaners fraught with chemicals that subject your family to harmful fumes, the Quickly Clean Glove is chemical-free, so you won’t have to pop open a window or wear an air mask.

Amazingly Adaptable
Experienced and amateur painters, mechanics, and hobbyists alike can take comfort in this jack-of-all-trades glove. Good for tidying up tools, furniture, and interior surfaces after paint, caulk, and putty jobs, its versatility practically surpasses your long to-do list. And it doesn’t stop there! The Quickly Clean Glove can also be used in the kitchen to wipe up the refrigerator—and even the produce within it—clean. Headed outdoors? Use the glove on siding and outdoor furniture to get rid of algae, in the garage to clear tar from auto parts, or at the golf course to remove grass from your 5-iron. And given the Quickly Clean Glove’s bargain price, you can afford to keep a pair with every cleaning caddy you have, indoors, outdoors, and beyond!

Purchase HYDE Quickly Clean Glove, $3.97

 

Watch the video below to see the HYDE Quickly Clean Glove in action!

 

This post has been brought to you by Hyde Tools. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


Quick Tip: The Safest Storage for Gasoline

Before you step on the gas of your next lawn or garden maintenance project, learn how to store your fuel safely and easily!

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How to Store Gasoline

Photo: fotosearch.com

With the arrival of spring comes a certain bouquet of seasonal scents, ranging from fresh-cut grass to spilled gasoline. This latter is a hallmark of yard work, powering everything from lawn mowers to garden shredders—but only if stored properly during the off-season. Many homeowners make the big mistakes of storing gasoline 1) in containers and condition ill-suited for its volatile composition and 2) beyond its recommended shelf-life. If excess fuel is on the loose on your property, these tips will help keep you and your gasoline safe and on-hand for use.

How to Store Gasoline - Fuel Container

Photo: fotosearch.com

Stowing away gasoline safely begins with checking your local and state regulations for fuel storage quantity and container capacity allowances. Many fire codes limit the amount of fuel you can store to 25 gallons total, divided among approved, leak-proof containers with a capacity less than five gallons each. These containers should be labeled and of an identifying color (red is the standard for this formidable fuel, while blue indicates kerosene and yellow represents diesel).

As you fill your container with gas (and potentially a fuel stabilizer), keep your face away from the nozzle and avoid ignition sources like heat and sparks by at least 50 feet. Then, tightly close and seal the container and store it in an edifice separate from the home itself—the garage or shed or shed are ideal, out of direct sunlight and, again, away from anything that will light. Before you move on to other household tasks, it’s smart to mark the fill date on the container so that you don’t fill up with fuel past its prime.

With the exception of gas that has been treated with a stabilizer to prolong its shelf life, gasoline should be stored for no more than 12 months in order to avoid damaging the engines that it will eventually power. (Anything older than that sitting around in your garage or workshop should be taken to a disposal facility, per recommendations from the American Petroleum Institute.) Then, rotate through your at-home supply of gasoline, starting with the oldest—within reason—so that you use up the fuel before its expiration. Since most outdoor power equipment manufacturers suggest draining the fuel tanks on mowers and other motorized tools that won’t be used for several months, make the most of your supply by refueling with only what you’ll need for any given job. When you’re ready to power your next lawn maintenance project, just pull out the gasoline, unscrew the lid, and fill ‘er up!


Are You Buying the Right Amount of Lumber?

It's important to have an idea of how much and what kind of lumber you need before you head out to the lumberyard. Gain confidence in your ability to track down the right materials for your next remodeling project with this helpful tutorial.

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Lumber Sizes - Lumber Aisles at Home Improvement Store

Photo: fotosearch.com

Once you’ve managed to secure the necessary approvals for your renovation or construction project, it’s time for the next hurdle: purchasing materials. Whether you’re building a treehouse or putting in a new walk-in closet, chances are you’re going to be looking for what carpenters and contractors call dimensional lumber, or framing lumber. But if you’ve ever walked around a lumberyard or browsed the building supply aisles at your local home center, you know that the experience can be a bit overwhelming. It can be daunting to confront aisles and aisles of floor-to-ceiling racks, each loaded with a confusing array of lumber. For the uninitiated or merely occasional DIYer, buying lumber can be an intimidating task. Fortunately, there is a method to this madness.

Lumber Sizes - Stack of Lumber

Photo: fotosearch.com

Keeping Sizes Straight
One of the first things to know when shopping for lumber for your project is that there’s a difference between what a board is called—its nominal size—and what it actually measures. For instance, a 2×4 actually measures 1½ inches thick by 3½ inches wide. The discrepancy between a board’s name and its exact measurements has its roots in the way lumber is manufactured. The nominal measurement reflects the approximate size of the fresh lumber before it is dried and planed to meet a consistent profile and dimension.

Two-by lumber, which is actually a half inch shorter in each dimension than the name suggests, comes in a variety of widths from 2×2 (which measures 1½ inches × 1½ inches) all the way up to 2×12 (which measures 1½ × 11½ inches). Board lengths are less complicated: Standard lengths start at 6 feet, and they increase in 2-foot increments all the way up to 24 feet for the wider boards.

How Much Is Too Much?
Determining how much lumber you’ll need—also known as a material take-off, or MTO—can be a tedious task. Back before we carried our smartphones to the hardware store, giving us immediate access to project specs and built-in calculators, we’d take the dimensions from our plans and literally count how much lumber we needed. It was all done by hand, and it was a ponderous, time-consuming ordeal, rife with inaccuracies.

But don’t fret! Today, the average DIYer has more options. Some larger, more complete lumberyards and home centers can calculate the take-offs for you. Call ahead and ask your lumberyard if they provide this service. If they do, be sure to bring a good drawing with precise measurements—no coffee-stained napkin sketches done over a fast breakfast. If you can provide the folks at the lumberyard with accurate information, they may be able to create a concise take-off for your project, load their delivery truck, and transport everything to the job site. If this route doesn’t pan out though, home remodeling enthusiasts and contractors alike also have access to a bevy of take-off software that can help calculate needs for large projects. PrebuiltML, Active Takeoff, and STACK are just three hugely popular, easy-to-use programs that can quickly and accurately produce a spot-on, organized materials list and free you from having to calculate actual dimensions from a scaled drawing.

Lumber Sizes - Lumber Yard

Photo: fotosearch.com

Quality Over Quantity
Armed with an understanding of lumber sizes and aware of the quantity of wood your project requires, you’re ready to buy the correct amount—but can you pick out the right stuff? How can you tell if the lumber you’re choosing is the best for your project? It’s easy—all the information you’ll need is stamped right on the board.

Each board is marked with a stamp that identifies the lumber grade. Lumber graded “Select Structural” is rare and very expensive, used most often in construction where you want the structural elements to be visible, as they are in lodge-style or timber-framed buildings. More common grades of lumber are identified numerically from 1 through 3, according to the wood’s imperfections (like knots) and how they affect the lumber’s strength. Grade 1 will have the fewest imperfections.

The stamp will also identify the species of wood as well as the wood’s moisture content (MC). S-GRN means that more than 19 percent of the wood’s total weight is water, while S-DRY or KD has a moisture content of less than 19 percent, and MC15 has a moisture content of 15 percent or less. The higher the MC, the more likely the board is to shrink and warp as it dries out (yes, even when nailed in place). All the same, these less expensive, higher-MC boards are ideal for temporarily bracing or shoring up a structure that’s under construction.

Finally, when choosing your lumber, look out for these common defects:
• A bow, or a warp on the face of a board that runs from end to end
• A check, or a crack along the growth ring that doesn’t pass through the entire board
• A cup, or a hollow across the face of the board
• A shake, or grain separation between the growth rings

As the old saying goes, “a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.” If you’re at all uncertain, ask a professional! But now that you’re acquainted with the basics, at the very least you’ll be better equipped to work with an in-store expert to nail down exactly what you need.


Quick Tip: How to Remove a Broken Screw

Can’t make headway on your latest DIY project because of a broken screw? Here's a fast and easy removal solution that's sure to stick!

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How to Remove a Broken Screw

Photo: instructables.com via Vyger

How to Remove a Broken Screw - Duct Tape

Photo: fotosearch.com

A screwdriver, a screw, and a willing surface to drive it into are familiar features of many home projects. But over-eager twisting, choosing the wrong screwdriver for the job, or using a tool with a damaged bit can strip a screw, making it extremely tough to remove. Fortunately, this tricky situation doesn’t have to interrupt your artful assembly. Get a grip on that broken screw—and remove it—with the help of a durable duo: duct tape and old-fashioned elbow grease.

First, wipe away any debris that may have accumulated during your earlier attempts to remove the screw. Then, rip off a small piece of duct tape and place it directly over the broken screw. Choose the screwdriver that correctly fits the head, and insert it into the duct-taped grooves. As you gently rotate the screwdriver counterclockwise, you’ll find that the duct tape fills the gaps, creating the traction needed to quickly and effectively dislodge the pesky fastener.

No duct tape on hand? For a variation on this flexible solution, cover the screwhead with a rubber band or steel wool, and then use a screwdriver to remove the screw as described above. If the broken screw is slightly raised, another option is to use pliers to get a grip on the screw and slowly rotate it up and out. Then, with the troublemaker finally removed, all that’s left to do is to grab a fresh screw and get back to work on your crafty construction.


The Right Glue for Every Repair Job

Every homeowner should keep a few different types of adhesive on hand to tackle all those little broken things that are part of everyday life. To make sure your home is properly stocked, read through our rundown of the best glues to use on wood, glass, tile, and more!

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Types of Glue - The Right Glue for Every Repair

Photo: fotosearch.com

If you’re confused by the wide array of options in the adhesives aisle at your local hardware store, you’re not alone. Many find themselves flummoxed by the collection of glues, cements, and epoxies. It’s wise to be a little cautious before buying: No single type of glue is right for all jobs, and using the wrong one can turn your project into a sticky mess. Here, a fool-proof guide to choosing the right glue for every repair!

Sticky Situation: Damaged Glass
Best Glue: Clear Epoxy
Because it’s nonporous, damaged glass can be tricky to glue back together. Any repair larger than a small chip, which you can fix with a drop of superglue, requires a high-quality clear epoxy. Look for “crystal clear” on the label so you don’t end up with repair seams that yellow over time.
Pro Tip: For the best bond, first use degreaser to clean the surfaces of the glass, and then sand the edges slightly to roughen them. Apply glue sparingly to avoid oozing.

 

Types of Glue - How to Fix Broken Ceramic

Photo: fotosearch.com

Sticky Situation: Broken Ceramic
Best Glue: Two-Part Epoxy
Whether you’ve knocked the handle off your favorite coffee mug or you’re trying to reassemble grandma’s treasured vase, for the best results, use a fast-cure two-part epoxy.
Pro Tip: A toothpick works well for applying epoxy to thin edges. If you accidentally get some on the surface of your item, wait until the adhesive hardens completely, then carefully scrape the excess away with a razor blade.

Sticky Situation: Separated Wall Tiles
Best Glue: Mastic or Thinset Mortar
Loose tiles are often the result of the installer’s having used too little adhesive. If a wall tile comes loose, you’ll want to match the original adhesive in order to reattach it. Take a close look. If the adhesive looks like dried glue, use mastic; if it looks like cement, premixed thinset is the best choice.
Pro Tip: Chip away old grout from around the tile you’re reattaching, and use tile spacers for the most exact and consistent alignment. Wait until the new adhesive cures completely before regrouting.

 

Types of Glue - How to Fix a Wobbly Wooden Chair

Photo: fotosearch.com

Sticky Situation: Wobbly Wood
Best Glue: Wood Glue
There’s one in every home: a stool so rickety that no one dares sit on it, or a picture frame that gapes at all four corners. Wood glue—the yellow brother of school glue—is inexpensive and offers a tight bond. Standard wood glue is for interior repairs; look for “exterior” on the label if you’re repairing patio furniture or a loose porch railing.
Pro Tip: Wood glue cures slowly, so use clamps or weights to hold the pieces together until the glue sets.

Sticky Situation: Detached Leather
Best Glue: All-Purpose Cement
For regluing loose leather on trunks, lamps, or briefcases, choose a high-quality all-purpose cement. It’s typically sold in a metal can with a brush attached to the inside of the lid. Make sure that the label states that the cement is suitable for use on both leather and the material you’re attaching the leather to, such as wood or metal.
Pro Tip: As with all contact-type cements, wait until the adhesive dries to a tacky state before pressing the surfaces together.

 

Types of Glue - How to Fix Loose Laminate Countertops

Photo: fotosearch.com

Sticky Situation: Loose Laminate
Best Glue: Contact Cement
End caps on laminate countertops are notorious for working loose and then catching on your clothing every time you walk by. If the particleboard backer beneath the laminate is in good shape, you can reattach the laminate with contact cement.
Pro Tip: After applying a thin, even coating to both surfaces, wait until the cement is tacky but not wet before pressing the pieces together.

Sticky Situation: Small Breaks on Miscellanous Knickknacks
Best Glue: Polyurethane Glue
Relatively new to the world of adhesives, polyurethane glue is a rising star, and no home or workshop should be without a bottle. Sold under various names, polyurethane glue expands slightly as it cures and forms a strong bond on many materials, including metal, masonry, fiberglass, and rubber.
Pro Tip: To avoid oozing, use a little less polyurethane glue than you think you need. Clamping is necessary until the glue cures completely.


How To: Use a Multimeter

No more scratching your head at malfunctioning appliances. With this guide, you'll learn the ins and outs of troubleshooting your home and household electronics using one of your toolkit's handiest instrument.

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How to Use a Multimeter

Photo: fotosearch.com

Once reserved for engineers and electronic technicians, multimeters—sometimes called “multitesters”—have come down in price and size, making them indispensable for homeowners who have basic knowledge of circuitry. When troubleshooting problems with small appliances, smart-home modules, speaker systems, or just about any other electronic item, a multimeter will be among the most valued tools in your arsenal.

If you’re new to multimeters, these gadgets may seem daunting at first. Learn the basics, however, and you’ll soon be able to perform a number of diagnostic tests on your own. Because multimeters vary from model to model, be sure to study your specific unit’s operating manual before you get started.

How to Use a Multimeter - Check an Outlet

Photo: fotosearch.com

Two Types of Multimeters
Analog multimeters, or volt-ohm-milliammeters (VOM), have been around for decades and can still be found, affordably, at any do-it-yourself-type store. The new kids on the block—digital multimeters (DMM)—offer greater precision with decimal point readouts, even enhanced functions, such as the ability to auto-detect alternating current (AC) or direct current (DC).

 

Applications and Limitations
Both VOM and DMM models measure voltage, resistance, and current, replacing the need for individual voltmeters, ohmmeters, and ammeters. While you can test household voltage with a multimeter, electrical-current-testing is limited to low-voltage circuits, such as small direct current (DC) motors or low-voltage alternating current (AC) appliances—your thermostats and doorbells, for example. To avoid blowing a fuse, destroying the multimeter, or risking injury, do not attempt to test current higher than the maximum allowed for your unit.

Among other things, multimeters can determine:
• Available battery charge
• Voltage at an outlet or switch
• Damage in cables and cords
• Viability of fuses, diodes and resisters
• Conductive ability of an electrical pathway

 

Measuring Voltage
With a multimeter, you can measure both AC and DC voltage—particularly useful for locating short circuits or determining if a rechargeable battery is holding a charge. Start by selecting the corresponding current on the multimeter and a voltage range higher than the current you’re testing. For example, if you’re measuring the voltage in a 120-volt wall outlet, turn the multimeter knob to the next highest option—200 ACV. If you’re testing a 12-volt car battery, select the next highest option—20 DCV.

Then make sure to connect your test leads to the proper jacks before testing: For voltage testing, plug the red lead in to the port labeled “V.” For this and all multimeter tests, the black lead plugs into the common (COM) port.

To test a battery’s DC charge, touch the red probe to its positive terminal and the black probe to its negative terminal; the multimeter will display the existing charge in the battery. Since polarity isn’t an issue in AC voltage, it doesn’t matter which probe you insert in either hole of a wall outlet; insert both probes, and the multimeter will display the voltage at the outlet.

Safety Tip: Hold probes by their insulated handles. Do not touch the metal part of the probes to avoid electrical shock.

 

How to Use a Multimeter - Check an Appliance

Photo: fotosearch.com

Testing Resistance and Continuity
In electronics, “resistance,” is the amount of hindrance to the flow of electricity, and less is more—or, rather, good for the operation of your appliances. Multimeter in hand, you can test resistance in circuit board components and appliance elements throughout the house. If, for example, a microwave isn’t operating as it should, this checkup could help you you determine if you should replace a single non-functioning component on the circuit board or buy a new microwave outright.

First, make sure the appliance is unplugged before testing. Plug the red lead into the port with the ohm’s symbol, “Ω,” and select the lowest ohms’ function on the dial. While you can test individual capacitors and components directly on a circuit board, you’ll get a more accurate reading if you remove a component and then test it. When you touch the black and red probes to both ends of a component, simultaneously, you’ll get a reading. The lower the reading, the less the resistance to electrical flow. By comparing the readings from other components on the circuit board, you can determine whether or not to replace a component with an unusually high reading.

To test the continuity, or continuous flow, of an electrical path between two points, plug the red lead into the “Ω” jack and turn the dial to the continuity symbol, “continuity”. A small reading—or a beep—indicates there is a continuous path between the two points. No reading or beep, however, indicates a problem. For example, if you’ve just put a new bulb in your lamp but it still doesn’t turn on, running this test at both ends of its power cord can confirm that an internally broken cord is to blame for your dim room.

 

Testing Low-voltage Current
In order to measure low-voltage current, the multimeter must become part of the circuit, allowing the current to actually run through the multimeter. This is handy for determining whether a low-voltage circuit, such as a looped set of solar-powered landscape lights, is getting power to all the lights. For this test, plug the red lead into the port labeled, “A,” for Amps, and select the next-highest Amps function on the dial.

Your operating manual may provide a chart, but if not, you can test a simple circuit by connecting the live feed from the power-supply (usually black) to the multimeter’s red probe. The multimeter’s black probe then connects to the positive wire (usually black) on the appliance you’re testing. Finally, the neutral power-supply lead (usually white) connects to negative appliance wire (also white). When you’ve hooked up the circuit correctly, turn on the power source to measure the electrical flow rate, or amps, through the circuit.

Safety Tip: As previously mentioned, do not test a circuit that exceeds your multimeter’s capability. Multimeters are “fused” at a maximum amount of voltage, which is typically lower than household current. If a multimeter bears the words, “10A MAX FUSED,” do not test any current you suspect might be higher than 10 Amps.


Genius! Turn Any Belt into a Tool Belt

Every DIY-er knows that not all repairs happen at home. For on-the-go fixes, transform any belt into a tool belt with one simple (and free!) swap.

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DIY Screwdriver Belt - How to Add a Screwdriver to Any Belt

Photo: youtube.com

Belts have been in use since the Bronze Age almost always adding functionality to an everyday uniform—from carrying European soldiers’ heavy swords to holstering cowboys’ most important tool, the revolver. By the 1920s, most pants were sold with built-in loops, and the utility belt was reduced to a wardrobe staple. ShakeTheFuture‘s DIY is practically a tribute to an earlier time, when utility always won over fashion and the belt you wore did more than hold up your pants. If you’re a modern-day weekend warrior, don’t wait until you’re caught unprepared to try out his useful twist on this everyday accessory.

ShakeTheFuture swapped out his belt prong with a versatile screwdriver head—specifically, a voltage-testing screwdriver, which works on most Phillips and flat head screws. After breaking off the handle from his screwdriver, he used pliers to remove the buckle’s old prong and bend its replacement (the metal rod of the screwdriver) into shape. He then measured the screwdriver point against the old prong, trimmed the excess with his Dremel, and popped it into his buckle where it stays nearly invisible. When it’s this simple, why not make your gear work harder for you? Even better, the belt’s buckle works as a handle for better leverage.

The uses for an on-hand screwdriver are endless. In a single day, you might need one to prop open a door, fix a wobbly desk, or pry open a stuck drawer or latch. If you hate being caught unprepared, keep a screwdriver by your side at all times by making this simple switch. Any belt can be a tool belt!

FOR MORE: Instructables via ShakeTheFuture

DIY Screwdriver Belt

Photo: youtube.com


How To: Sharpen an Axe

If you have an axe to grind with your wood chopping tool's dull blade, then follow this step-by-step tutorial to get it back in business.

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How to Sharpen an Axe - File

Photo: fotosearch.com

Few outdoor chores are as inherently hazardous as cutting down trees or chopping up wood, especially when your axe is subject to heavy use. Working with a dull axe is not only ineffective, but it’s also downright dangerous. A worn or damaged blade may bounce or glance off the wood rather than making a clean cut. Fortunately, sharpening an axe is a fairly simple procedure, requiring only a few easily gathered tools and some straightforward steps. Remember: Sharpening any tool is a task that requires undivided attention and proper safety equipment. Always wear protective goggles over your eyes and sturdy gloves on your hands.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Safety goggles
- Sturdy gloves
- Table clamp or vise
- Grinding wheel (optional)
- Bastard file
- Wire brush
- Axe gauge
- Dual-sided sharpening stone
- Honing oil or water
- Beeswax

How to Sharpen an Axe

Photo: fotosearch.com

STEP 1
Clean the axe head well to remove rust and reveal any chips or gouges. If you find major damage, consider first using a grinding wheel to create a clean, straight edge. Don’t try to do it all in one pass—a little bit of grinding goes a long way! Use short strokes with the wheel, and pause between each to allow the steel to cool before continuing. Alternatively, you can dip the axe head in a bucket of cold water between passes. If there are only small nicks, you can skip this step and proceed directly to filing.

STEP 2
Clamp the axe handle into a bench vise. Begin perfecting the surface by running a 10-inch bastard file along one side of the bevel of the blade, keeping in mind that the ideal angle is between 25 and 30 degrees (you can check the angle with a bevel gauge). Work on one side at a time, filing slowly and pushing the file away from you in long, smooth strokes. Do not use a push-pull motion; if the tool makes contact with the blade on the return stroke, you may damage the file—and you won’t get your blade any sharper. Use a wire brush to remove metal particles as necessary. Keep count of the number of strokes you use on this side of the blade, as you’ll want to apply the same number to the other side.

STEP 3
Continue filing evenly until a burr of metal, called a “wire edge,” appears at the apex of the cutting edge on the side of the blade opposite to the one you’re filing. Turn the axe over and repeat the filing process, using the same number of strokes you used on the first side to ensure that you don’t end up with an asymmetrical blade. Be careful to keep the edge beveled and centered on the head.

STEP 4
Once you have a nice, sharp edge, hone the blade using a dual-sided sharpening stone. Run the coarse grit over one side of the blade using a circular motion, remembering again to count the number of strokes you use. After applying the same number of coarse strokes to the opposite side of the blade, repeat this process with the fine side of the stone.

STEP 5
To keep your axe in fine fettle, remember to apply a protective coating of beeswax, linseed oil, or machine oil to the head after each use. Dispense a liberal amount onto a rag, then rub it in and buff it so the entire axe head is covered and protected.