Category: Tools & Workshop


Bob Vila Radio: Pulling Nails

Most avid DIYers know well how to hammer in a nail— but there are plenty of projects that will require you to pull a nail out. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you pull a nail out.

You may be pretty good at swinging a hammer to drive in a nail, but there are plenty of do-it-yourself jobs that will require you to get some nails out instead of in. Here are a few quick tips to help make pulling nails a little easier.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON PULLING NAILS or read the text below:

Pulling Nails

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You can often remove a nail with the claw end of a hammer. Start by slipping the claw under the nail head and rocking it loose. To avoid damaging the wood surface OR breaking your hammer, once you get the nail partly out, slip a wood block under the hammer head next to the nail before you pull straight on the handle to remove the nail.

If the nail is resistant to pulling and you don’t mind roughing up the wood surface a little, you can try a cat’s paw instead of a hammer’s claw. A cat’s paw is a nail-pulling tool that does great work getting to buried nails. Use the head of the hammer to tap the cat’s paw into the wood to extract the stubborn nail.

If the nail is buried and you have access to both sides of the wood, you can use a hammer on the back side to drive the nail out far enough so you can grab its head on the front.  If the nail has no head, you can sometimes pull it out from behind using pliers and a little elbow grease.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


Quick Tip: Safety Glasses

Be smart and wear safety glasses whenever airborne particles or debris are part of the home improvement project you're working on.

Contemporary safety glasses are much improved. They offer comfort and clear vision as well as protection from flying objects. Always use safety glasses when sawing wood, cutting tile, installing insulation or doing any other activity that may involve airborne particles or debris. Always have safety glasses handy. Make them a part of your toolkit.

For more on safety, consider:

Workshop Safety
Protective Gear
8 Home Hazards—and How to Mitigate Them


Bob Vila Radio: Installing Versatile Pegboard

Traditionally, pegboard has been a hallmark of basement workshops and garages. But times have changed and with improved design options, homeowners have begun to hang the storage utility—well, just about everywhere.

Perforated hardboard, more commonly known as pegboard, has been a staple of workshops and retail stores for decades. The boards are amazingly strong given how thin they are, and they have dozens of uses around the home. They are not just for tool storage anymore.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON PEGBOARD VERSATILITY or read the text below:

Pegboard

Photo: remodelista.com

If you haven’t looked into pegboard lately, you’ll be amazed at how many different specialty hooks and accessories you can find to customize your board. In addition to simple metal hooks, you can find brackets for small shelves, rods for hanging laundry, hangers for a full set of screwdrivers, baskets for craft supplies, even padded hangers to hold guitars.

Hooks and hangers now come in a wide variety of colors as well as shapes, so your pegboard display can be as vibrant as you’d like it to be. It’s easy to customize a pegboard, too. The easiest way to do that is to paint it, but you can also now buy specialized pegboard skins—paper covers in a variety of designs that are prepunched with holes that align with your board. With a bit of imagination, you can create a display that’s not only functional, but beautiful as well.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


How To: Drill a Clean Hole

It's easy to drill a hole through a board. But for both sides to come out looking clean, you've got to use this technique.

Here’s how to drill a hole when you need to see both sides of your work. Drill on the front side of the board until the tip of the drill bit pierces the back. If you go all the way through, the job will look like this. Now turn your work over to the back, set the drill bit in the pierced hole, and finish drilling from this side. You’ll end up with a smooth cut on both sides.

For more on woodworking, consider:

Drill Bits for Different Jobs
10 Ways to Use Your Cordless Drill/Driver
How To: Drill Straight 90º Holes (Without a Drill Press)


Bob Vila Radio: Types of Chisels

Chisels date back all the way back to the Ancient World. Today, there are hundreds of different types of this tool for cutting stone, wood, or metal.

Chisels are sharp-edged metal tools used to cut stone, wood, or metal, and they have a spectacularly long lineage. In fact, today’s chisel would probably be quite recognizable to an ancient Egyptian or Roman.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON TYPES OF CHISELS or read the text below:

Types of Chisels

Photo: fine-tools.com

Today, there are hundreds of types of chisels, each designed for a specific use. Very generally, chisels can be divided into two categories according to their handle style. In a tang chisel, the tang, or shank, of the blade runs completely through the handle; in a socket chisel, the handle fits into a socket in the metal blade. But handle style is just one of many variables, the most important being whether the chisel is intended for use on stone, metal, or wood. Chisels also come in different lengths, width, thickness, shape, and edge design, which makes for a confusing array of choices. It’s tough to know what to buy.

If I had to pick just one, I’d opt for a set of what’s called firmer chisels, which are all-purpose tools with flat blades, designed to be tapped by a mallet. They’re available in a range of widths and lengths.

Whatever type you choose, spring for good-quality chisels. They’ll maintain their edges longer, and a sharp chisel is not only more effective, but it’s much safer, too.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


Quick Tip: Circular Saw Safety

Remember these circular saw safety tips the next time you undertake a woodworking project.

Here’s some important safety tips to remember when you’re using a circular saw. Remove jewelry and loose clothing first and always wear eye protection. Before you plug in, make sure your blade is tight and sharp and never tie back the blade guard. Steady your work and stand to one side. When the blade is at full speed, push the saw forward smoothly without forcing it. And of course you should never reach underneath.

For more on power tools, consider:

Workshop Safety
How To: Saw Safely
Bob Vila Radio: Tool Tip — Circular Saws


Quick Tip: Bench Dogs

Bench dogs perform the vital service of a holding a workpiece securely in place, so you can bring your full concentration to bear on the task at hand.

A bench dog is a great tool for any woodworker’s shop. Bench dogs are often used in pairs, with one pair set into a tail vice, the other into an opening in the bench top. The vice is tightened to hold the wood securely. That way, you can keep your mind on your plank. Though bench dogs are sometimes made of steel or iron, the woodworker’s choice is usually wood.

For more on workshops, consider:

Bench Furniture
The Basic Workbench
Planning Your Woodworking Shop


How To: Make a Wood Window Valance

To hide the hardware for your window treatments, imparting an elegant finishing detail in the process, why not make a valance in your woodworking shop?

A decorative wood valance adds charm to your house. You can make one yourself. Here’s how. Copy a pattern, or create your own using rigid cardboard, and carefully cut it out using a sharp utility knife. Then transfer the template onto a piece of clear, finished lumber, leaving a quarter-inch extra along the edge. Now cut out your design with a saber saw and smooth off the rough edges with a file and a sander.

For more on woodworking, consider:

Bob Vila’s 7 Essential Woodworking Tools
5 Easy Woodworking Projects for Beginners
10 Surprisingly Simple Woodworking Projects


How To: Use a Slotted Screwdriver

A few simple tips can help the average do-it-yourselfer to use a slotted screwdriver more effectively.

Make sure that when you’re using a slotted screwdriver, you’re not doing it the hard way. Here’s how. Be sure you’re using the right size screwdriver. The head should be approximately the width of the screw head. The tip should fit snugly into the slot of the screw. If it’s narrower, you lose power. For more power, try a screwdriver with a larger handle. Pre-drilling pilot holes can save work, too.

For more on tools, consider:

The Essential Toolbox
Bob Vila Radio: Screwdrivers
How To: Use a Phillips-Head Screwdriver


How To: Snap a Chalk Line

Snap a chalk line the next time you need to mark a straight edge as part of a home improvement job.

Using a chalk line is a quick way to give yourself a straight line as a building guide. Here’s how. Find the endpoints of your line and drive a nail in at each point. Stretch the chalk-coated string tightly between the nails. Pull straight up from the middle and let the string snap. On rough framing and cement, you can use red chalk, but be sure you use only blue or white chalk on finished works, since they won’t bleed through paint.

For more on tools, consider:

The Plumb Bob
How To: Make a Story Pole
7 Essential Measuring Tools for Any Job