HAND TOOLS

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Bob Vila Radio: Squares
One tool that should definitely be in any do-it-yourselfer’s toolbox is a good carpenter's square. A square helps you...
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Bob Vila Radio: Types of Chisels
Chisels are sharp-edged metal tools used to cut stone, wood, or metal, and they have a spectacularly long lineage. In...
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How To: Use a Slotted Screwdriver
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 ...
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How To: Snap a Chalk Line
Using a chalk line is a quick way to give yourself a straight line as a building guide. Here's how. Find the endpoint...
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Quick Tip: Pliers
Pliers are a relatively modern invention, and it's hard to imagine what people did without them. There are a dozen or...
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Quick Tip: Tin Snips
Don't wreck a good pair of scissors trying to cut metal. You need a good pair of tin snips. Tin snips look and work a...
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How To: Use a Phillips-Head Screwdriver
When you're using a Phillips-head screwdriver, make sure that you're not doing it the hard way. Here's how. Be sure y...
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Quick Tip: Ball-Peen Hammers
For jobs that require a hammer with a little more heft than a claw hammer, try a ball-peen hammer, sometimes called a...
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How To: Use a Plumb Bob
Professional builders use a plumb bob to make sure their walls are vertical. Here's how. Measure two inches away from...
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Quick Tip: Using a Chisel
A chisel is one of the most useful tools in the workshop, but it's important to know how to use it. For example, afte...
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Quick Tip: Using a Level
Checking your work for level and plumb is crucial. Here's how to select and use the right tool for the job. I recomme...
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Quick Tip: Staple Guns
For a lot of jobs around the house, using a staple can be a lot faster and easier than banging tacks or nails. The mo...
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Quick Tip: Steel Wool
For tough jobs like removing rust or preparing surfaces for paint or varnish, there's nothing like steel wool. It's m...
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How To: Pull Nails
This wooden-handled hammer may look strong enough to pull any nail but because the grain of the wood is actually weak...
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Bob Vila Radio: Screw Starter
Many small home improvement projects start with drilling a pilot hole. (That’s a small hole that prepares a material ...
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The Scraper
This is a tool for minimalists, for those who admire simplicity of form and function beyond all else. That's because ...
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Clamps
Clamps, specifically hand-screw, bar, spring, strap, pipe, and C-clamps remain the basic tools on which any workshop ...
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Doweling Jig
A convenient method of joining boards is a dowel joint. Especially useful when two or more boards are being joined (b...
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Basic Grinding 101
I've never seen the guy so angry: His wife used a favorite chisel to open a paint can and my friend Dominick took it ...
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The Bench Grinder
The bench grinder is to the workshop as the trainer is to the team. It doesn't run out on the field when a tool goes ...
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Saw Blade Sharpening
A good handsaw, when properly treated, is a tool that can be passed with pride from one generation to the next. Essen...
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Spokeshaves
Most tools seem to develop in families. There are resemblances from one generation to the next, and cousins are recog...
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Rasps, Files, and Surfoams
Files are easily taken for granted. They've been around for thousands of years, predating even the ancient Egyptian c...
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Rabbet Planes
One of the most common wood joints is the rabbet. Consisting of a rectangular slot at the edge of one piece into whic...
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Molding Planes
For woodworkers with old-time tastes, using a molding plane is like drinking a vintage port. The planes are not for e...
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Making Plane Adjustments
Using woodworking planes whose cutters are out of adjustment is like driving a car in the wrong gear: You may be able...
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Bench Planes
Bench planes are a loosely linked category of flat-bottomed planes. The cutting irons are usually set at a forty-five...
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All About Calipers
Calipers and their near relations, the compass and dividers, have been in use at least since Roman times. While their...
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Woodworking Gauges
These simple tools haven't changed much in generations (no doubt the old cliché about not fixing things that aren't b...
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All About Miter Boxes
A miter box made of wood (usually beech) or plastic is an inexpensive way of making sure the finish cuts you make wit...
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How To: Use a Rafter Square
The rafter square is designed to take advantage of the geometric laws of the right triangle. For example, the right t...
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The Utility Knife
This is truly a tool of a thousand uses. The thinness of its blade means it can be used for precise marking on cutoff...
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Bevel Gauge
A near relation of the try square, the bevel gauge also consists of a handle or stock with an attached tongue (or bla...
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Rulers, Straightedges, Compasses and Dividers
We all learned how to use a ruler in elementary school, if not before. Little did we know at that age how many variet...
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Wrenches
The first nuts and bolts, which were put to use during the early years of the Renaissance, had square heads. The hexa...
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The Story Pole
To those who have used one, a story pole does indeed have a tale to tell. To the uninitiated, however, the story pole...
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Pliers
Pliers are used to grip, position, tighten, loosen, and cut certain metal elements. Learn about five types of pliers:...
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Unfastening Tools
Pry bars, crowbars, pinch bars, flat bars, and cat's-paws; those are the names of some of the sturdy steel tools that...
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Flexible Tape Measures
Today, the tape measure may be the carpenter's best friend, but in dozens of other trades, too, the tape measure can ...
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Wood Clamps
Wood is a remarkable material. It's widely available, handsome, and immensely diverse. Many of its varieties can easi...
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Screwdrivers
To the uninitiated, a screwdriver is a screwdriver is a screwdriver. The truth is, however, that’s simply wrong. Most...
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Mallets
Wooden MalletsMallets are hammers that are used to drive chisels, gouges, or to shape soft metals. Firmer chisels are...
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Types of Hammers
Today, there are hammers of a dozen or more different designs manufactured for many kinds of tasks, which will be dis...
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The Block Plane
Quality planed stock can be bought from most lumberyards today, but wood that has been dressed on all four sides wasn...
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Scrapers
I've lumped together, under a single heading, a family of tools that are used to perform many tasks. They resemble on...
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Cold, Masonry and Brick Chisels
Cold chisels aren't for cold weather; they're for cutting cold, hard metal. A cold chisel will cut any metal that is ...
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Wood Chisels
Suppose you borrowed H. G. Well's time machine and traveled back into history a few centuries or even a millennium. S...
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All About Glass Cutters
The glass cutter is a clever tool about the size of a pencil. Its han­dle, whether made of wood, metal, or plastic, a...
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Pocketknives
A pocketknife is, simply, a knife with one or more blades that fold into its handle, of a size that will fit convenie...
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The Bow Saw
One reason for the fascination of antique tools is their visual ap­peal. For many people, the bow saw has just such a...
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The Backsaw
Like the word handsaw, the name backsaw is something of a catchall term. In general, a backsaw is a handsaw with a br...
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Carpenter Squares
Every time I pick up a carpenter's square, it feels familiar. This is one of the practical, substantial tools that al...
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Sharpening Chisels
I know you've heard it before, but it's true: sharp tools are safer tools. The chisel is a perfect case in point. A d...
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Snips
When I see a pair of giant snips, I think of Laurel and Hardy. Snips do look a lot like scissors, but they tend to be...
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How To: Saw Safely
Every time you use a power saw, you put your very own flesh and blood at risk. I've worked with more contractors than...
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How To: Use a Hammer
At first, I felt a bit foolish explaining how to use a hammer. Most of us have seen children banging away with toy ma...
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Japanese Saws
The difference between a Japanese saw and an American saw is more than just the place of origin. Japanese saws have d...
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The Chalk Box
I've admired this deceptively simple tool since I first saw my father use it decades ago. It is used to mark straight...
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Levels
In making or repairing small rectangular objects, a square is invaluable in helping ensure the joints are tight and t...
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The Transit Level
The practice of plane surveying (determining the position of buildings, boundaries, and topographical features as if ...
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The Plumb Bob
What Is a Plumb Bob?The plumb bob or plumb line employs the law of gravity to establish what is “plumb” (that is, wha...
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The Coping Saw
Coping is a process by which one piece with an irregular surface is fitted to another. In practice, most of us encoun...
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Bob Vila Radio: Nail Sets
If you have stubborn nails that pop out of your floorboards, or you need a way to get a finishing nail flush against ...
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Tool Obsession: Stanley Functional Utility Bar
After a polite invitation from our HOA to promptly remove (demolish) our front door overhang, I decided that I needed to...
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Bob Vila Radio: Wrench Roundup
When you have to tighten a nut, bolt, or other standard fastener, you need a wrench. But what kind?Listen to BOB VILA...
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Bob Vila Radio: Levels
Do you want to make sure that shelf you’re putting up is really on the level? Then you need. . . well, a level. Level...
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Bob Vila Radio: Tape Measure
I can barely think of a home improvement job that doesn’t require a tape measure! Whether you’re framing a new room o...
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Bob Vila Radio: Tool Tip - Ratchet Sets
Tool sets are popular gifts, but none is more useful for the home and garage handyperson than a really good ratchet s...
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Bob Vila Radio: Tool Tip - Laser Level
No workshop should be without levels in various lengths, but for lines longer than 3' or 4', traditional bubble level...
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Top Tools 2012: Irwin GrooveLock Pliers
Why You'll Love It: Innovation hasn't exactly shaken up the world of groove joint pliers over the last few decades. B...
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Top Tools 2012: Johnson 9500 Magnetic Aluminum Box Level
Why You'll Love It: Levels don't carry many bells and whistles, but they are important tools for every project, ...
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Top Tools 2012: ChannelLock 13 'N 1 Ratcheting Screwdriver
Why You'll Love It: The ChannelLock 13 'N 1 combines the efficiency of a ratcheting screwdriver with the versati...
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Top Tools 2012: Milwaukee 6-in-1 Combination Pliers
Why You'll Love It: Save room in your tool belt with 6-in-1 pliers from Milwaukee Tools, which can cut and strip wire...
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Top Tools 2012: Craftsman 145-Piece Mechanic's Tool Set
Why You'll Love It: This Craftsman 154-Piece Mechanic's Tool Set comes with every socket, wrench, or b...
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Bob Vila Radio: Tool Tip - Tin Snips
Don't wreck a good pair of scissors trying to cut metal; you need a good pair of tin snips. Listen to BOB VILA ON TIN...
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Bob Vila Radio: Tool Tip - Staple Gun
It's a ‘staple’ in every tool and craft kit, it can save you lots of time banging tacks or nails, and it can get into...
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Bob Vila Radio: Tool Tip - Pliers
The tool we think of as pliers only evolved from “tongs” fairly recently, but it’s hard to imagine life without a var...
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7 Essential Measuring Tools for Any Job
Besides "righty tighty, lefty loosey," there's one DIY phrase that nearly anyone can recite: Measure twice, cut once....
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Bob Vila Radio: The Saber Saw
For a saw that’s great on the curves, no workshop is complete without a good saber saw. CM_BVILANOTES-4 Tool Tip- Sab...
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How Many Tools Does a Good Multi-Tool Need?
A century ago, knife-maker Wenger (of Swiss Army Knife fame) started a debate that only got louder in 1983 when Tim L...
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Bob Vila Radio: Tool Tip: Claw Hammers
It’s been in every tool belt since the 16th century. The claw hammer is a must-have for driving and removing nails an...
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Bob Vila Radio: Handsaws
With all the great power saws available today, the lowly handsaw has kind of faded into the background. But there are...
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Bob Vila Radio: Screwdrivers
When it comes to screwdrivers, make sure you're using the right one for the job. LISTENListen to BOB VILA ON SCREWDRI...
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How To: Use a Saw Properly
PreparationPreparation is the most important ingredient for making clean, accurate, safe cuts. To properly prepare fo...
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How To: Determine If Your Carpenter's Square Is True
To determine whether a carpenter's square is true, all you need is a straight line. Sound too simple? First you lay t...
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The $20 Japanese Pull Saw: A DIYer's Best Bang for the Buck
This is not dedicated to the woodworkers, the gear hounds or the power tool junkies. This isn't for the contractors, ...
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Multi-Plane
The multi-plane is truly the muscle-driven equivalent of the router. Its handle is of wood, but that's where its rese...
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Quick Tip: Tool Maintenance
Tool Maintenance. Whatever your storage arrangements, keep your tools clean. After use, remove any sap or resins from...
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Marking Tools
When using a marking tool, whether it is a pencil, an awl or something else, surgeon-like precision is the goal and ...
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Hand Squares
Traditionally the larger metal squares, like the rafter square, were thought of as carpenter's tools. In contrast, sm...
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Speed Square
Sometimes called a "magic square," angle square, or protractor square, this tool functions as a square but is shaped ...
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Quick Tip: On-Site Level Lengthener
All right, let's say you're raising a stud wall of eight or nine feet and the longest level you have on hand is two ...
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Combination Square
This tool is essentially an adjustable hand square, with a couple of clever advantages. It consists of a rigid steel...
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Handling Your Hand Saw
How to Make a Crosscut Crosscuts are cuts that go against the wood grain. Once you've properly measured and marked yo...
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Squares, Levels, and Plumbs
According to the old nursery rhyme, there once was a crooked man who, along with his crooked cat and a crooked mouse,...
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Kitchen Cabinet Installation
John Wellborn (from Wellborn Cabinets) and carpenter Paul Anderson join Bob for the kitchen cabinet installation.
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The Dominy Workshop at Winterthur Garden
Bob takes the first of many visits to the Winterthur Garden and Museum in Delaware's Brandywine Valley.
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Installing Molding on the Kitchen Cabinets
Paul Anderson attaches pre-finished crown molding around the kitchen cabinets in the modern Colonial project house.
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Picture Framing
Interior designer Leslie Curtis shows off another of her decorating ideas in the dining room.
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Leveling the Floor
Bob meets lead carpenter Connor McKenna from Thorough Construction, who is working with the original floor joists in preparation for the hardwood floors.
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Installing the Subfloor
Thorough Construction's lead carpenter Connor McKenna applies panel adhesive to the tops of the new, sistered joists before laying four-by-eight sheets of Georgia...
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Building the Foyer Staircase
Bob visits with carpenter Mark Fortunati, who is building a traditional-looking staircase in the foyer.
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Installing Copper Gutters
Bob watches as gutters are installed along the copper-roofed breezeway.
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Building the Backyard Deck
Bob observes as general contractor Charlie Tomaszewski finishes up the picture framing for the mahogany deck.
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Block Wall Demolition
Bob and contractor Ed Weller meet to demolish a block wall in order to open up the room for remodeling.
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Pine Porch Ceiling
Contractor Larry Landers installs V-groove pine on the ceiling of the new front porch and demonstrates how to stagger and miter boards for an attractive, old-fash...
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Recycling a Hardwood Floor
Flooring contractor Leo Boudreau shows Bob how to recycle hardwood flooring. First, the floor must be salvaged. A pry bar is used to lift and remove the wood, pie...
For an eclectic table setting or outdoor lighting, try a riff on this project from The SITS Girls blog—converting mason ja... It turns out that many bath and kitchen cleansers contain chemicals that are dangerous to the skin and eyes, and often pro... So often we paint tiny nooks white to make them appear larger, but opting for a dark, dramatic wall color like this one—Be... Chocolate-colored walls and large window frames allow the exposed wood beams to take center stage in this small screened p... If you're not crazy about the idea of commingling plants and pool, this modern variation may be more to your liking. The s... Yes, a freestanding garage can become its own tiny house. Artist Michelle de la Vega has all the comforts of a modern resi... There’s nothing like a new set of cabinet hardware to refresh a room. The possibilities are endless: Go modern, rustic, or... Pursue what's known as the stack effect. To achieve it, open the windows on both the upper and lower floors, and as warm a... Like no other floor type, a checkerboard design works wonders to underscore the retro kitchen theme. Vinyl flooring, ceram... Twine lanterns add pops of crafty—but sophisticated—flair to any outdoor setting. Wrap glue-soaked twine around a balloon ... When securely fastened to a tree or the ceiling of a porch, a pallet and some cushioning make the ideal place to lounge. V... Incorporate nature into your lighting scheme by securing a dead tree in a concrete mold and draping your pendant lamp from... For the cost of a can of exterior paint , you can totally transform your porch. Paint the floor a hue that complements yo... In this urban apartment, a standard-issue patio became a serene and green perch by replacing the typical concrete with gro... If you put the washing machine in the mudroom, you can stop the kids from walking through the house in dirty, grass-staine...
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