HAND TOOLS

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A Contractor Duo Designs a More Perfect Hammer
After a combined thirty years in the construction business, brothers Steve and Rick Spencer had grown tired of relyin...
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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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How To: Use a 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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4 Scraper Tools Every DIYer Should Know
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...
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Use a Hairdryer to Fix Torn Vinyl Flooring More_clips
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