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- How To: Sharpen Drill Bits
How To: Sharpen Drill Bits
Follow this guide to go from dull to on point using a workbench basic, no fancy gadgets required.
Do-it-yourselfers live by the rule of “the right tool for the job,” but just as important is maintaining those tools so that they can do their jobs. Case in point: Keeping twist drill bits sharp. When bits get dull, your natural inclination is to push the drill harder, which inevitably causes bits to break and could even result in personal injury. Though there are gadgets specifically designed to put a precision point on drill bits, the bench grinder in your workroom may be all you really need. Pointed drill bits make safe, easy work of many projects, so—while it takes a bit of practice to hone them like a pro—there’s no better time to learn how to sharpen drill bits than before your next task.
MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Dull drill bits
- Bench grinder
- Safety goggles
- Work gloves (optional)
- Container of ice cold water
- Scrap wood
Note: Some find that wearing work gloves impairs the ability to get a safe grip on a drill bit. Because it’s crucial to have a firm hold on the bit while grinding, gloves are listed as optional. Safety goggles, however, are a must.
Examine your dull bits. Your goal is to remove only enough metal to get a sharpened edge. Many bench grinders have two grinding wheels, one coarse one and one fine. If the bits are really ravaged, start with the coarse wheel, and switch to the finer one later in the process; if your bits don’t look too bad, begin with the finer grinding wheel.
Don your goggles and turn on the bench grinder. Get a firm grip on your drill bit and hold the cutting edge precisely parallel to the front of the grinding wheel. Slowly, carefully, move the bit until it contacts the wheel. Do not turn or rotate it; simply keep it straight and held at the original factory angle of 60 degrees.
Hold the bit at this angle against the wheel for no more than four to five seconds. Remember: Your objective is to simply grind the dull surface away, not wear down the bit. Focus on grinding the heel of the bit, where the tip meets the twisted shaft—not the edge—to achieve the ideal angle. If the angle isn’t steep enough, the drill bit won’t bore smoothly.
Pause after four to five seconds of grinding and dip the drill bit into the ice water to cool the metal. Failure to do so will cause the drill bit will become too hot to hold and even wear down the metal faster, shortening the effective life of the bit. Once the bit is cool to the touch, inspect it to see if it’s honed to a good point on the side you just worked.
When satisfied with the point on the first side, turn the drill bit 180 degrees and use the same grind-and-cool process for the opposite side of the tip. Aim for that 60-degree angle, and an angle and point that’s the same width on both sides of the drill bit, to enable the tool to bore straight holes. To help ensure equal sharpening, some people opt to sharpen a little on each side, holding the drill bit in their dominant hand and flipping it 180-degrees after every few seconds of grinding.
Once the drill tip meets in a finely honed point, and both edges are sharp and the same width, give the bit a test run. Hold the tip perpendicular against a piece of scrap wood and twist the bit by hand. Even with this light pressure, a well-sharpened drill bit should create the beginnings of a hole. If not, re-examine your tip and return to the grinding wheel. Again, strive for that ideal 60-degree slope on the point, with equal widths on either side. Don’t be disheartened if you return to the wheel several times—that’s part of the learning curve.
Once you’re confident in the sharpness of the bit, insert it in your drill, grab that scrap wood, and begin drilling. It should “bite” the wood right away with minimal pressure and, when you extract the drill bit from the wood, it should fling wood chips as it emerges.
Top Tips for Keeping Drill Bits Sharp
Once you’ve successfully mastered how to sharpen drill bits, maintain a cutting edge with these three best practices.
• For every inch or so that you drill, pull out the bit and blow off any flakes or chips of wood. Otherwise, these chips will get packed into the flutes of the bit, becoming very hot. The hotter a drill bit gets, the faster it dulls, requiring more frequent sharpening.
• Make the stop-and-cool technique a habit, especially when drilling hardwood. Simply keep a container of cold water nearby and dip the drill for a several seconds between every few inches of drilling.
• Keep two complete sets of drill bits. Some pros rely on a like-new set of drill bits only to start a hole, and then—to keep that better set sharper for longer—switch to their older, sharpened bits to finish the task once the drill hole has been established.
- Kitchen >
- 3 Things to Know Before You Invest in Granite Counters
3 Things to Know Before You Invest in Granite Counters
Durable and beautiful, granite countertops bring a touch of elegance to a hardworking kitchen. Learn more about this luxurious material and whether it's the right choice for your kitchen.
As the primary work surface in a room that drives the daily operation of the modern household, kitchen countertops play host to any number of different activities—everything from meal preparation and casual dining to bill-paying and homework help. Still, for as much use and abuse as countertops undergo, homeowners demand that they not only resist wear and tear, but also define the overall look and feel of the kitchen. In other words, a successful kitchen countertop must boast beauty as well as brawn. That’s precisely why, according to Jim Eldredge, a product manager with Sears Home Services, granite continues to reign as “king of countertops,” even after so many years of popularity. No other material strikes such an effective compromise between attention-grabbing aesthetics and no-nonsense practicality. Perhaps best of all, though granite connotes the height of luxury, prices have stabilized in recent years, and the market now offers a range of accessible price points. Read on to learn more about making granite countertops part of your next home improvement project.
Granite shines in terms of durability—a boon in busy kitchens—thanks in large part to the material’s pedigree. Formed by immensely powerful geological forces over millions of years, granite isn’t just figuratively “hard as a rock”—it’s literally so. The benefit? You can expect granite countertops to last as long as your house, even as you enjoy the near-term conveniences of such a durable kitchen surface. For instance, since granite naturally resists heat, “you can place a steaming-hot pan directly on top of it” without scorching the stone, Eldredge says. Plus, if you drop something heavy on a granite surface, there’s no need to fear that the impact will do any damage. If granite has any weakness, it’s that the porous material allows oils and acids to seep in and leave stains. That’s why, if your granite slab doesn’t come pretreated with a sealer, it’s crucial to apply one as necessary, typically once a year. Otherwise, apart from routine care that includes regular wipe downs with a moist sponge, “granite takes care of itself,” Eldredge concludes.
2. LOTS OF LOOKS
Considering granite’s longevity, Eldredge advises homeowners not to rush into purchasing granite countertops. “You may like a certain look today,” he says, “but you have to think about whether you’re still going to like it not months, but decades down the line.” Fortunately, in part because every quarried stone has its own unique mineral makeup, granite counters come in a nearly infinite variety of colors and patterns. Indeed, whether jet black, marbled blue, or speckled brown, no two slabs are exactly alike. For that reason, Eldredge advises, “granite isn’t necessarily the right choice for every kitchen.” For instance, in a modern setting, homeowners sometimes favor solid colors or uniform patterns. Other homeowners, however, find that the rich variability of the stone means that no matter what colors or textures are present elsewhere in the kitchen, there’s a granite counter to match or serve as a visual complement. Further, while most people picture granite as polished and glossy, Eldredge notes that it’s also often available in a low-glare, matte finish. As Eldredge puts it, “The possibilities for granite are truly endless.”
Accounting for 10 or 15 percent of the budget for the typical kitchen remodel, countertops don’t come cheap. According to Eldredge, however, “It’s a popular misconception that granite costs more than anything else.” Certainly, compared with a countertop made in a factory, you can expect to pay a premium for quarried, shipped, and fabricated natural stone. But over the years, prices have come down enough to make granite all but ubiquitous in kitchens around the country. Neither uniformly expensive nor cheap, granite “really runs the gamut [in price],” Eldredge says. “You can easily spend a small fortune” on an extra-thick slab of a rare variety, but granites that are in greater supply compete in cost—or come in cheaper than—many other popular options. Renovating on a shoestring? Eldredge points out that many homeowners keep a lid on the budget by specifying granite for select application in “hardworking, high-profile areas,” such as the kitchen island, rather than throughout the entire room. In the end, although granite countertops may be a luxury, many homeowners find them to be an affordable one.
Of course, at the end of the day, the total project cost depends not only on the granite itself, but also on the installation fees. If you’re a budget-conscious do-it-yourselfer, the idea of handling the installation on your own may be tempting, but experts advise against it. For one thing, granite counters weigh about 18 pounds per square foot, so merely moving a slab often requires the combined strength of a small crew. For another, cutting and fitting granite countertops requires specialized skills and tools that the average homeowner handyman simply doesn’t possess. Finally, there’s the fact that many homeowners view a kitchen upgrade as an overwhelming prospect. The valuable experience and perspective that the best pros bring to this complex enterprise often equals or surpasses the value of their labor. Sears Home Services knows this perhaps better than anyone. That’s why Sears project coordinators work with you from selecting a granite slab all the way to seeing it secured into place. Ready to get started? Schedule a free in-home consultation with Sears Home Services today!
This article has been brought to you by Sears Home Services. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.
- Green >
- What You Can’t See CAN Hurt You
What You Can’t See CAN Hurt You
Even the most well-tended home can fall victim to leaks of toxic or explosive gases. Fortunately, there are simple precautionary steps you can take to protect your home and everyone in it.
Walk into any home on any street in any town and you are likely to see the same fire safety features that you have in your own home—multiple smoke alarms located strategically throughout the house. After all, even if there weren’t the potential for catastrophic property damage, “nobody second-guesses whether it’s smart to take precautions” when the lives of loved ones are on the line, says Daniel O’Brian, a technical specialist with SupplyHouse.com. But as grave a threat as fire poses, it’s by no means the only one homeowners have to contend with. On the contrary: in any home with fuel-burning appliances (furnaces, stoves, and so on)—the majority of homes—there are at least two other potentially devastating dangers that smoke alarms do nothing to diminish. Keep reading to learn more about these risks and the simple things you can do to keep them at bay.
For heating and cooking, more than half of all homes rely on one or another type of explosive gas. Typically, it’s methane, better known as the primary component of natural gas. Over the years natural gas has achieved widespread adoption, supplanting other popular types of fuel (for example, oil). Why? For one, natural gas burns cleanly and efficiently. For another, natural gas has earned a reputation for relative safety. A key factor: because it’s naturally odorless, utilities modify the gas with a noxious, sulfur-containing substance called mercaptan. If anything goes wrong— “if a line ruptures or a seal comes loose,” O’Brian says—the rotten-egg smell of mercaptan provides an unmistakable warning signal. But make no mistake: the deliberate inclusion of an odorant like mercaptan only underlines the fact that a concentration of natural gas can kill you—and “in more ways than one,” O’Brian points out.
Natural gas isn’t poisonous per se. If you breathe it in, don’t call an ambulance. You’re going to be fine. Dangers ensue only when natural gas collects in an enclosed space—for example, “in a home with the windows closed for the winter,” O’Brian says. In such a situation natural gas displaces the available oxygen, eventually creating conditions that make it impossible to breathe. Of course, the rotten-egg smell transmits a clear signal that there’s something amiss and homeowners know to react quickly and decisively in response to a gas leak. But if the problem mounts slowly, or if the homeowner doesn’t possess a keen sense of smell, it’s possible for the leak to go unnoticed until it’s too late. Even scarier: in the presence of an indoor gas leak, it can take just a spark to ignite the accumulated gas and cause an explosion powerful enough to reduce the home to little more than a pile of rubble.
Unlike natural gas, carbon monoxide (CO) isn’t a fuel. Rather, CO forms as a by-product of the combustion that converts a fuel like natural gas into energy. Whether it’s an oil furnace or a gas-powered lawn mower engine, any equipment that burns fuel also simultaneously generates carbon monoxide. So long as there’s sufficient ventilation, allowing CO to dissipate into the air outdoors, you’ve got nothing to worry about. But as O’Brian notes, “accidents happen,” whether caused by a manufacturing defect, poor maintenance, or user error. Long story short: many of the modern household systems we depend on for comfort and convenience can suddenly become sources of a tasteless, odorless, invisible poison that, according to the Centers for Disease Control, sends more than 50,000 people to the hospital each year and results in approximately 450 deaths.
Believe it or not, carbon monoxide ranks as the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in America. What makes it so pernicious? For one thing, the dizziness, nausea, and other symptoms of CO poisoning can be all too easy to misinterpret as a cold or flu. Plus, with most CO-related deaths occurring while victims sleep, there’s proof that, as O’Brian puts it, CO doesn’t always give you “a chance to escape.” Whereas natural gas must accumulate for long enough and to such an extent that it displaces the indoor air, the adverse effects of carbon monoxide set in with alarming speed. Plus, because CO binds to red blood cells, preventing them from carrying oxygen to vital organs in the body, the “silent killer” can do serious harm at much lower concentrations than natural gas. Ultimately, it’s a menace “many homeowners don’t take seriously enough,” O’Brian concludes.
With life-threatening gases lurking in the background of day-to-day life, what’s the best way to ensure a safe, healthy home? Early, accurate detection. “You already have smoke alarms to protect against fires,” O’Brian remarks. To achieve the same peace of mind when it comes to other household hazards, O’Brian continues, “there’s a simple, low-cost step you can take.” That is, you can equip your home with detectors specially designed to register the presence of carbon monoxide and explosive gases like methane as well as airborne propane and butane. The typical unit simply plugs into the wall and sounds an alarm when triggered. Others automatically shut down one or all fuel-burning appliances if the system senses a problem. Bear in mind that most detectors register either explosive gases or carbon monoxide—not b0th. Before buying, O’Brian advises, “Confirm that the purchase meets your exact needs.”
Also, as with smoke alarms, comprehensive protection often depends on the installation of multiple detectors throughout the home. In the ideal arrangement, to mitigate the dangers of explosive gases, a suitable detector would be placed immediately adjacent to each fuel-burning appliance. For carbon monoxide, meanwhile, O’Brian says, “Follow the same guidelines that apply to smoke alarms.” That is, make it a point to place a CO detector in each bedroom, in hallways that lead to bedrooms, and on each level of a multistory house (including the basement). Truth be told, you may not even have a choice in the matter, as the building codes in a growing number of municipalities now require CO protection. Unsure of the regulations where you live? Check with the local building department, then when you’re ready, reach out to the experts at SupplyHouse.com for advice on which unit or units would work the best for you.
This article has been brought to you by SupplyHouse.com. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.
- Major Systems >
- Built 270 Years Apart, 2 Homes Share 1 Big Thing in Common
Built 270 Years Apart, 2 Homes Share 1 Big Thing in Common
An efficient, compact, and inconspicuous HVAC system proved to be the right choice for two strikingly different properties, separated by hundreds of miles—and several centuries.
Whether you live in a centuries-old charmer or a modern marvel, you share something in common with the owners of homes nothing like your own. In any residence, regardless of its age or style, it’s often a struggle to balance practical concerns with aesthetic ones. Compromise isn’t always possible. Take heating and cooling, for instance. In the search for effective and efficient HVAC, homeowners often learn that installing a conventional climate-control system will detract from an older home’s historical integrity, or in a new custom or contemporary home it can interfere with unique architectural designs.
The most ubiquitous type of HVAC system in America, forced-air heating and cooling, relies on a network of bulky air ducts, so it’s no easy feat to fit a forced-air system into an existing home. To do so, contractors must often open up walls, ceilings, and floors. Soffits, chases, and other special accommodations are also commonly necessary to route ductwork from room to room. In other words, retrofitting forced air requires a major remodeling effort that will no doubt deliver comfort, but may also steal square footage or sacrifice architectural integrity. Of course, it’s easier to install a forced-air system in new construction. But even then, the plans would need to be adjusted to account for the path and sheer size of the anticipated ductwork. In any case, choosing forced air often means allowing the needs of the system to dictate everything else, including the final layout, appearance, and feel of the home.
Although conventional forced air dominates the contemporary HVAC landscape, it’s by no means the only game in town. By excelling precisely where forced air falls short, many competing systems have emerged as compelling alternatives. One technology in particular manages to do what forced air never could—that is, heat and cool effectively, efficiently, and all but invisibly. This technology, known as high-velocity mini-duct HVAC, underlies the increasingly popular Unico System. As testament to its versatility, the Unico System sits at the heart of both the Orrin Hoadley House in Branford, Connecticut (pictured above), and the Resonance House in Lexington, Kentucky (pictured below). The two couldn’t be more different, yet they rely on Unico for precisely the same thing—modern comfort that does nothing to detract from the architecture or interior design of the home.
Streamlined and compact, the Unico System installs virtually anywhere, unobtrusively, no matter what constraints may be present. In the Orrin Hoadley House, many factors would have complicated the installation of a conventional system. With portions that date back to 1736—decades before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, let alone the advent of modern HVAC—the home had no space for heating and cooling equipment.
Built in 2006, the Resonance House faced the same dilemma but for different reasons. First of all, the full-size ductwork of a conventional system would have lessened the visual impact of the soaring ceilings—specifically, the double-height central living area. Another curveball: The dramatically low-pitched roof did not offer enough clearance for a standard-size system. Ultimately, the Unico System proved uniquely suited to solve the problems faced in each circumstance.
The secret to the Unico System? For one, it exchanges full-size rigid-metal ductwork for flexible “mini” ducts that measure only two or three inches in diameter. Able to slide behind walls, beneath flooring, and around any obstructions, the ducts in the Unico System bring heating and cooling to every corner of the home, without the need for extensive remodeling. In other words, no matter the design of the home, the Unico System adapts, thanks not only to its snake-like ductwork, but also to its remarkably space-efficient air handler. Even though the unit can fit into an opening only a couple of feet tall or wide, it packs up to three times as much power as a comparable conventional air handler. All told, Unico components need less than a third of the space required by a traditional forced-air system. Its smart, streamlined design enables it to integrate seamlessly almost anywhere, ensuring a low-impact, out-of-plain-sight installation.
The Unico System takes its commitment to inconspicuous design down to even the smallest details. For instance, in the Orrin Hoadley and Resonance Houses, you see only one subtle sign of the installed system—the small outlets that feed conditioned air from the mini ducts to the living spaces. Unlike conventional HVAC vents—large and rectangular, with grilled fronts— the Unico System offers discreet circular or slotted outlets that can be installed wherever they would be least noticeable, whether that’s on the ceiling, floor, or wall. The outlets come in a wide array of standard finishes, and you can always elect to have yours custom-painted or stained to match perfectly the colors and textures that define your decorating scheme. This attention to appearance ensures that, just as installation of the Unico System requires no major remodeling, it similarly requires no sacrifice of aesthetics. A successful outcome is a system you barely see.
In the Orrin Hoadley and Resonance Houses, the Unico System escapes notice in more ways than one. As much as you don’t see evidence of the system, you don’t hear much either. That’s because Unico doesn’t operate in the same way as a traditional forced-air system. The latter turns on and off in a cyclical pattern, calling attention to itself with each transition and creating air turbulence in the conditioned space, resulting in uncomfortably uneven temperatures. Rather than blasting warm or cool air into the living space, the Unico System leverages the principle of aspiration, introducing conditioned air to the home in such a way that it draws the ambient air into its stream, ensuring a uniform, draft-free environment. Plus, Unico manages to do so at a whisper-quiet decibel level, thanks mainly to the sound-deadening insulation that encases system components, including the ducts.
This duct insulation actually performs two roles. In addition to muffling the sound of air movement, it also enables the system to deliver best-in-class energy efficiency. To understand why, consider that standard uninsulated ductwork suffers thermal loss, often enough to compromise overall system efficiency by 25 percent or more. As well, inefficient air leaks commonly develop in ductwork, particularly at the seams where two sections join. Thanks to sheaths of dual-layer, closed-cell insulation, the ducts in the Unico System sidestep the problem completely, wasting virtually no energy in air delivery, ensuring that you get the climate control you pay for when the utility bill comes. Given that cooling and heating comprises more than half the energy costs in the average home, the efficiency built into the Unico System can help you achieve savings that add up to a significant sum over the long term.
Like so many in the Northeast, the Orrin Hoadley House faces energy costs that are already high and still rising. With this in mind, its owners selected the Unico System not only because it could be installed with minimal disturbance to this historically significant residence, but also because it would help rein in running costs. Meanwhile, at the Resonance House, Unico was able to work in conjunction with the structure’s eco-friendly materials and technologies to keep utility costs low—stunningly low, in fact. Most months, the bill comes to $125—about 65 percent less than the homeowners paid in their previous home of half the size. In recognition of its efficiency, the Resonance House became the first in its state to receive the coveted LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Taken together, though separated by hundreds of miles and hundreds of years, the Orrin Hoadley and Resonance Houses prove that you don’t have to choose between comfort and design. The Unico System delivers both.
This article has been brought to you by Unico. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.
- Kitchen >
- Bob Vila Radio: Selecting the Right Stove for Your Home
Bob Vila Radio: Selecting the Right Stove for Your Home
There's no right or wrong when it comes to choosing a kitchen stove, but before you go out and make any purchases, be sure to understand the pros and cons of the two most popular types on the market.
No kitchen stove is perfect. Both gas and electric models offer advantages and disadvantages. Here are a few considerations to bear in mind, if you’re thinking about making a switch.
Listen to BOB VILA ON CHOOSING A STOVE or read below:
Serious chefs often prefer gas stoves, as the intensity of their stove-top flames can be subtly tweaked. Meantime, those with small children may prefer electric stoves, which many parents prefer to open-flame cooking.
Cost is, of course, a major consideration—not just initial cost, but also long-term operating cost. Electric stoves tend to carry a bit of a higher price tag than gas models, but gas stoves are often a little less expensive to operate.
Even though gas stoves can be powered on propane, butane, or even liquefied petroleum gas, most run on natural gas, which requires a gas line being routed into your home. If you live in the suburbs that’s usually no big deal. In rural areas, though, tapping into a gas line may not be possible, and the cost of other fuel alternatives may be prohibitive. You’ll certainly want to check that out before you buy.
Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free!
- Walls & Ceilings >
- Genius! How to Disguise an Ugly Thermostat
Genius! How to Disguise an Ugly Thermostat
Try one DIYer's simple, state-of-the-art solution to hide the eyesore of thermostats and other bulky wall-mounted consoles.
Megan Pflug‘s gallery wall was a near masterpiece except for one niggling imperfection. A glaring white programmable thermostat, previously installed smack dab in the middle of the wall, stood out like a sore thumb against the rich peacock blue backdrop. Though the drab device cramped the hallway’s aesthetics, ripping out the indispensable indoor unit wasn’t an option. The professional interior designer needed a more practical—and more artful—alternative for hiding a thermostat while retaining access to its utility.
A lover of fine art, the one-woman business owner found the solution for her decorative dilemma at a nearby antique store: a vintage oil painting framed by a wooden stretcher. The canvas stretcher was deep enough that it could completely cover the slim box of a thermostat while blending with the collection of wall hangings already in place. Enlisting a screwdriver and a few short screws, she secured one side of a large hinge to the stretcher bar behind the right edge of the painting; the second half screwed into a set of wall anchors in the drywall to the right of the thermostat to keep the hefty artwork hanging in place. Mounted on a hinge rather than a standard nail or photo hook, she could now conveniently swing the loose edge of the painting out or in rather than remove the canvas completely in order to gain access to the thermostat—or hide it—at a moment’s notice.
Dealing with eyesores of your own? Megan’s high-art yet low-effort cover-up is versatile enough to hide either nail holes or technological intrusions on the wall, whether that be an errant fuse box, security system console, or an ancient thermostat that dates the otherwise modern design of your home but isn’t ready for a replacement. Hang other eye-catching paintings or portraits alongside the picturesque thermostat cover, and no one will be any the wiser.
FOR MORE: One Kings Lane
- Interior Design >
- All You Need to Know About Light Bulb Types
All You Need to Know About Light Bulb Types
The last time you went off in search of a replacement light bulb, were you left paralyzed by the proliferation of new types of bulbs in the lighting aisle? Here, we clear away the confusion with this helpful breakdown of the different varieties on the market and their best uses.
It’s not your imagination: The light bulb section in your local hardware store has grown. Bulbs of every type, color, and shape line the shelves in a wide—and confusing—array of options, making it hard to find the right bulb for your needs. But once you understand bulb basics, choosing the right replacement bulb for your lamp or fixture can be a snap. We’ve put together what you need to know about the many different types of light bulbs on the market these days so the next time you’re face with a burned-out bulb, you’ll be prepared.
LIGHT BULB LINGO
Before you head out in search of a new bulb, get a grasp on terminology manufacturers use to measure the input and output of certain types of light bulbs.
Watts indicate the amount of energy the bulb will use. Bulbs with lower wattage will use less electricity, and can therefore help keep the electricity bill down. Here, the age-old mantra holds true: Less is more.
Lumens indicate the amount of light the bulb will emit. The number of lumens to look for depends on the room you’re lighting, as some spaces (like the bathroom) could use a brighter bulb, and others (say, the bedroom) benefit from softer light. To calculate the optimal number of lumens, multiply the room’s square footage by these rule-of-thumb figures:
• 7.5 lumens per square foot in hallways
• 15 lumens per square foot in the bedroom
• 35 lumens per square foot in dining rooms, kitchens, and offices
• 75 lumens per square foot in bathrooms
Typically, a standard 100-watt incandescent bulb emits approximately 1600 lumens. Newer types of light bulbs, however, require less power and emit just as much light.
BULB TYPE: INCANDESCENT
Standard incandescent bulbs—known for being energy hogs—have experienced an energy-efficiency upgrade that began, for bulbs sold in California, in 2011 and became nationwide in 2012 as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Common household light bulbs, which traditionally used between 40 and 100 watts before 2011, now use at least 27 percent less energy than they did back in the day while still producing comparable lumens. That means that you’re less likely to find 100-watt bulbs on shelves today, which stopped being manufactured in 2012, and are more likely to be greeted with options of 30, 40, and 50 watts. Incandescent bulbs do not contain mercury, and they last an average of one year before needing to be replaced.
Best For: Use with dimmable light fixtures, vanity lighting (because incandescent light flatters skin), and low-voltage lighting. Try the candelabra-base GE 60-Watt Bulb in your dimmable dining room chandelier ($5.97 for a 4-pack at Home Depot), or buy the Philips 7-Watt C7 Replacement Bulb for your toddler’s night-light ($3.97 for a 4-pack at Home Depot).
BULB TYPE: FLUORESCENT
Fluorescent tube bulbs have been around for years. You’re no doubt well acquainted with the long, cylindrical glass tubes you see in overhead lights in department stores, but you can also find circular and U-shaped fluorescent tubes to fit specialty fixtures. This particular type of light bulb uses less energy than incandescent bulbs, but it contains mercury vapor and a phosphor coating that converts UV light to visible light when turned on. Because these bulbs contain mercury, many communities have regulations for their disposal.
Best For: Bright lighting needs in your workshop. We like the Philips T12 40-Watt Daylight Deluxe Linear Fluorescent Tube ($9.97 for a 2-pack at Home Depot); while it draws only 40 watts, it produces 2,325 lumens of bright light.
BULB TYPE: COMPACT FLUORESCENT
Compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs—easily identified by their hallmark curlicue design—use a fraction of the wattage incandescent bulbs use. While good for reading and project work, the light they emit is relatively harsh and undesirable in vanity lighting, where they can add 10 years to your appearance. Like fluorescent tubes, CFLs contain mercury, so broken bulbs should be disposed of according to the EPA’s suggestions for cleanup. Note: Most CFLs don’t work with dimmer switches and aren’t particularly well suited for light fixtures you switch on and off frequently, as this habit can shorten their useful life.
Best For: Overhead lights, lamps, and task lights. A smart choice for replacing the bulb in your reading lamp is the EcoSmart Soft White Spiral CFL ($5.97 for a 4-pack at Home Depot); equivalent to a 60-watt incandescent bulb, it emits 900 lumens of light. In places where you need more illumination, such as for task lighting in the kitchen, try the Philips Daylight Deluxe T2 Twister CFL ($12.95 for a 4-pack at Home Depot), which offers the same amount of light as a 100-watt incandescent bulb.
BULB TYPE: LED
Light emitting diode (LED) bulbs are currently the most energy efficient of all types of light bulbs. Though they were costly when they first hit the market, prices have dropped significantly since then. With lifespans that exceed those of most other bulbs and options that encompass a variety of colors as well as white, these bulbs offer the best bang for your buck. Early LED bulbs offered only directional lighting, but with recent advances, manufacturers are now offering LED bulbs that emit whole-room diffused lighting.
Best For: Just about anywhere you previously used incandescent bulbs. To replace the bulbs in your overhead lights, wall sconces, or table lamps, try Philips Daylight A19 LED Bulbs ($8.97 for a 4-pack at Home Depot) or the Philips Soft-White B11 Candelabra Bulb ($6.97 for a 3-pack at Home Depot).
BULB TYPE: HALOGEN AND XENON
Halogen bulbs use 25 to 80 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs, but still use more than CFLs and LEDs. The white light they emit brings out vibrant tones in furnishings and decor. Halogen bulbs come the closest to natural daylight, but as they get extremely hot, be sure not to use them in any lamp or fixture that small children can reach. A variation on halogen, xenon bulbs cast the same clear white light yet remain cooler to the touch than standard halogen bulbs, making xenon safer for use in table lamps.
Best For: Exterior floodlights, hanging pendant lights, and accent lighting. If you’re looking for an energy-efficient outdoor bulb, try Philips EcoVantage Halogen PAR38 Dimmable Floodlight ($9.97 per bulb at Home Depot). With 1,750 lumens, it will light up walkways and provide a measure of security. Are you in need of a replacement bulb for your bi-pin socket track lighting? Feit Electric’s Xenon 20-Watt Halogen G8 Bulb ($7.95 for a 2-pack at Home Depot) fits the G8-shaped bi-pin base sockets found in popular track, display, and task lights.
BULB TYPE: WI-FI CAPABLE
Strictly in the realm of “specialty bulbs,” Wi-Fi-capable bulbs fit ordinary lamps and fixtures but give you the ability to either program the bulbs to turn on at preset times, or control them remotely from your smartphone or tablet. Read the fine print before you buy one that doesn’t work with your mobile device; some bulbs are strictly Apple- or Android-compatible.
Best For: Remote operation of overhead lights or lamps that you typically set to stay on before you leave for vacation. If you own an iPhone or iPod, check out the Philips Soft White A19 Hue Connected Home LED ($14.97 per bulb at Home Depot), which connects to your home’s Wi-Fi signal so you can operate the light remotely via an app. Alternatively, the Flux Wi-Fi Smart LED Light Bulb ($35 per bulb on Amazon) is a bit pricier but promises more control over brightness and color; for both Apple and Android products.
- Kitchen >
- How To: Build a Kitchen Island
How To: Build a Kitchen Island
Maximize any kitchen space—cramped or capacious—by building a custom kitchen island to fit all of your needs.
Sometimes, the kitchen is too small to prep a multi-course meal for friends or family. If only you had 12 square inches more counter space to chop vegetables, or an extra shelf to move the unused toaster out of the way… Sound familiar? Then this tutorial is for you! Without breaking your budget, you can create a kitchen island that goes above and beyond your wildest culinary workspace and storage dreams. Just follow these plans for how to build a kitchen island with room to do it all—chop, mix, shelve, store, and more. Ours measures 57 inches long, 21 inches deep, and a standard 35-½ inches high, but, of course, you can alter these dimensions as you see fit to better address your kitchen’s needs.
MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- 10-foot-long 2×2 lumber (5)
- Hand saw
- Palm sander
- Sandpaper (80- and 120-grit)
- Wood glue
- 3-inch screws (4+80)
- 2-inch metal corner brace (20)
- 6mm plywood (2 4-by-8-foot sheets)
- Wood clamps
- 8-foot-long 1×2 lumber (5)
- Acrylic paint
- 10-foot-long 2×8 lumber (2)
- 4-inch mending plates (9)
- 1-inch screws (36)
- Varnish or mineral oil
- ½-inch nails (18)
- Scrap wood
- Metal drawer pulls (4)
Cut your 2×2 lumber into the following lengths to make up the structure of the DIY kitchen island:
• Four 33-inch pieces for the legs
• Two 57-inch pieces for the countertop support
• Four 54-inch pieces for framework for the top and bottom shelf
• Six 18-inch pieces for shelf and countertop support
Sand all edges of your cuts, and assemble one side of the kitchen island by arranging a 57-inch 2×2 with two 33-inch legs to make a U-shape as pictured. Glue the two legs to the bottom of what will be the countertop support, then pre-drill holes for and fasten with two screws through the top at each end.
Place two 54-inch shelf supports between the island’s legs (the first 12 inches from the bottom of the island’s top, and the second 10 inches beneath that). Affix with a dab of wood glue on both ends of the 54-inch shelf supports, and reinforce with a 2-inch metal corner brace beneath each end.
Repeat Steps 1 and 2 to make a second identical structure.
Join the two identical halves using the six 18-inch pieces. To accomplish this, place half of the frame on the floor and affix three 18-inch lengths to each leg using wood glue. Note: Each 18-inch 2×2 should align with the horizontal 2×2s already connected (the shelf and countertop supports). Screw corner braces beneath each connection for extra support.
Lay the second half of the DIY kitchen island’s frame (without the attached 18-inch cuts) flat on the floor. To prepare to connect both halves, you’ll want to screw three metal corner braces to each leg, one at each level. Scoot each corner brace to the edge of the leg so that it’s perpendicular but perfectly aligned with the corner brace already in place supporting either a shelf or countertop, then screw each into the wood.
Lay the two halves in front of each other, corner braces and 18-inch supports facing in and feet facing up. Apply wood glue to the exposed ends of the 18-inch supports, press them to the opposing kitchen island legs, and screw the second half of each corner brace into the wood supports. Stand your DIY kitchen island upright.
Cut a rectangle of 57 inches by 21 inches from the 6mm plywood sheet in order to make the lowest shelf. At each corner, cut out a small notch the same dimensions as the legs (1-½ inch square). Sand the plywood, especially the cut edges.
Apply wood glue to the tops of the lowest level of 2×2s and fit the plywood piece through the open top of your DIY kitchen island into place onto the adhesive. Press the wood pieces together with clamps until the glue dries.
Make the second shelf using 1×2 lumber cut into 22 21-inch lengths. Lay them out over the structure’s middle-tier supports, leaving a ¾-inch gap between each, and glue down the 1×2s at each end.
Sand all parts of the kitchen island, first using 80-grit sandpaper on a palm sander, then again with 120-grit for a smooth finish.
Wipe down all the dust with a clean rag before you move on to apply two coats of acrylic paint. We chose a charcoal color, but you could stain and varnish it instead, if you prefer.
While the paint (or stain) dries, you can build the countertop using the 2×8 lumber. Cut the 10-foot planks into three 5-foot-long pieces to make a countertop that is a little longer and wider than the base of your DIY kitchen island. Carefully align the pieces side by side so that no one extends past the others, then apply wood glue along the 1-½-inch side of each where they meet. As the glue dries, screw three 4-inch mending plates along each seam on the back.
Sand the completed countertop down, and protect it with a coat of varnish or mineral oil. Once the varnish is dry, lay the countertop on your kitchen island; it should hang ¾ of an inch off the front and back and 1-½ inches off the left and right sides. Center it as best you can, then glue and clamp the countertop onto the structure while the adhesive dries.
STEP 13 (optional)
Sure, you can purchase storage boxes or crates from your nearest home goods store or craft center—or you can build a set to perfectly fit the allotted space on the lower shelf for less money than you’d spend otherwise. We made four boxes of 13 inches wide, 8-½ inches tall, and 18 inches deep with a quarter-sheet of plywood.
For each box, you’ll need to cut five rectangles in the plywood sheet:
• One 12-½ inches by 18 inches for the box bottom
• Two 8-½ inches by 13 inches for the box front and back
• Two 8-½ inches by 17-½ inches for the box sides
To assemble the box, apply wood glue along the edges of the box bottom (the 12-½-by-18-inch rectangle). Lay it flat and on the ground and press the front and back panels (the 8-½-by-13-inch rectangles) in place, then apply glue to the exposed edges of the front and back panels—except for the tops!—and slide the sides (the remaining 8-½-by-17-½-inch rectangles) into place. Essentially, all sides should wrap the bottom of the box, and the front and back should cover the edges of the sides. Reinforce the construction with ½-inch nails; hammer three along each side of the front and back.
Repeat to make four boxes total.
STEP 14 (optional)
Once the wood glue has dried, add a metal drawer pull for easy opening and closing of each new “drawer” on your DIY kitchen island. As we used only 6mm plywood to build these, you may have to glue an extra piece of scrap wood on the inside directly behind where you want to add the pull so that there’s enough thickness to drill screws into for the drawer pull. Measure to find the center near the top of the box’s front, place your drawer pull 2 or 3 inches from the top; when happy with the position, mark and drill holes. Screw this drawer pull into place, and repeat on the remaining three boxes.
Once you’ve shelved these boxes to the lower shelf as drawers, and ready to enjoy your new DIY kitchen island.
Ama is a DIY addict and the creative mind behind Ohoh Blog. She likes home decor, lighting, and furniture projects that may involve painting, sewing, drilling…no matter the technique! Whatever she has on hand is inspiration to create, and fodder for her serious addiction to upcycling.
- How To's & Quick Tips >
- DIY Lite: Make a Stunning Serving Tray from Scrap Wood
DIY Lite: Make a Stunning Serving Tray from Scrap Wood
Wow guests by serving up snacks or drinks on a platter that's truly one-of-a-kind.
End of the year celebrations are just around the corner, and—no matter whether your plans include hosting an intimate dinner or throwing a giant party—an extra serving tray can always come in handy. After all, how else might you corral coffee fixings or carry appetizers out to your guests? But festive events deserve a little extra flair. Follow this illustrated tutorial to craft a DIY serving tray that’s uniquely styled with a geometric pattern and a trio of wood stains. And don’t feel the need to stash this platter away after guests leave; simply transfer the wooden tray to your coffee table or kitchen counter as a catch-all year-round.
MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- 6mm plywood (20 x 20 inches minimum)
- Graphic compass
- Ruler or protractor
- 1-½-inch x ¼-inch wood lath (24 feet)
- Scrap wood
- Wood stain (3 shades)
- Wood glue
- Wood clamps (optional)
- Palm sander
- 60-grit sandpaper
- 100-grit sandpaper
- Transparent acrylic varnish
Draw a hexagon on the plywood the size you wish to make your DIY serving tray; ours has a diameter of 18 inches. The easiest way to do so is to start by tracing a circle with a 9-inch radius in the center of your 20-inch-square plywood piece.
If you don’t have a drafting compass or yours isn’t capable of drawing a diameter of up to 18 inches, you can achieve the same end with a rope, pencil, pushpin, and ruler or protractor. Knot the rope around the pencil end closest to the lead tip (right where your fingers might hold it), measure out 9 inches of rope (the length of your radius), and fasten the other end of rope to the center of your plywood using a pushpin to fasten. Now, verify that the distance between the pushpin and the pencil tip is exactly 9 inches, as that’s what you’ll be cutting the wood lath to fit in the next steps. If so, proceed to draw the circle by holding the pencil vertically.
Continue with the pushpin method to find the corners of the hexagon. Remove the pin from the center of your circle and place it anywhere along the circle’s circumference; mark that position (Corner 1) in pencil. Now, trace along the circumference of the circle until the 9 inches of rope extends taut; mark this spot (Corner 2) in pencil, too. Move the pushpin to the mark you just drew, and repeat to find the next corner.
Continuing this process all the way around the circle should give you six corners. After you’ve marked the last, confirm that the distance between Corner 6 and Corner 1 is also be 9 inches long.
Use a ruler or protractor to connect the dots; the six lines will reveal your hexagon. Then, divide the shape into three identical parts by tracing a line from every other corner to the center of the circle where you first placed the pushpin.
Cut the wood lath into 15 equal pieces that will completely cover the tray, five in each third. To fit the DIY serving tray’s hexagonal shape, it’s important to achieve the right length and angle for each piece. The easiest way to do so is to place the first lath along one of the dividing lines and slide it until the lath enters into the neighboring third. Use the lines drawn on your plywood to mark the angles needed to cut each end of wood lath.
Rest one lath on a piece or two of scrap wood and cut along your penciled lines using a jigsaw. Before you cut 14 more to match, fit the piece into the drawn hexagon to check if the dimensions are accurate. If so, use this first cut as a model to measure and cut 14 additional pieces.
Set the lath pieces aside, and use the jigsaw to cut the hexagon shape out of the plywood next.
Sand all the pieces—plywood and lath, front and back—to remove splinters.
Stain the lath cuts in different shades to emphasize the pattern built into your DIY serving tray. We used Early American and Oak stains for six pieces each, and we left three pieces with their natural tone. Looking for more color? Use paint instead!
Arrange multicolor lath cuts onto the plywood hexagon, and glue them in place. If you have them, you can set up wood clamps to hold the pieces together while the glue dries.
After the recommended amount of dry time passes, give a light sanding to the edges of the DIY serving tray to remove any dried adhesive peeking through the cracks.
The last thing you have to make are the edges to your DIY serving tray. Cut six pieces of lath, each 9 inches long and with 30-degree angles in at both ends. Adhere each edge to a side of the tray with wood glue. Then, once all the glue has dried, lightly sand the finished project down. All that’s left to do now is to wipe away the dust with a clean cloth, and then spray on a coat of varnish to protect your rustic serving tray from all of the use it will get down the road.
Ama is a DIY addict and the creative mind behind Ohoh Blog. She likes home decor, lighting, and furniture projects that may involve painting, sewing, drilling…no matter the technique! Whatever she has on hand is inspiration to create, and fodder for her serious addiction to upcycling.
- How To's & Quick Tips >
- How To: Remove Drywall Anchors
How To: Remove Drywall Anchors
Don’t get hung up on unwanted fasteners—take them out or camouflage them with the easy methods here.
Drywall anchors certainly come in handy when you want to safely hang something heavy on a hollow wall or a spot without studs. Drill a hole to insert an anchor, and its firm grip to the drywall enables you to put in a screw for shelves, a large mirror, or a piece of artwork. It’s all good—until you decide to take out drywall anchors to paint the room or relocate that enormous family portrait. Fortunately, it’s relatively simple to remove drywall anchors. The first move is to remove any screws to access the anchor, and then proceed with a method best suited to the particular type of fastener. Threaded plastic, cone-shaped, or expanding anchors can often be easily pulled out, while T-nut head varieties may need to be pushed through the wall or removed with a cutting wheel. This guide covers the top techniques for how to remove drywall anchors—even a savvy (sneaky!) alternative to removal—plus the best way to patch things up afterwards. So, anchors away…or not!
MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Needle-nose pliers
- Drill with 1-inch cutting wheel
- Utility knife
- Clean, dry rags
- Drywall putty
- Drywall spatula
- Medium-grit sandpaper
METHOD 1: PULL IT OUT
Grab the collar or head of the drywall anchor firmly with needle-nose pliers. With a gentle back-and-forth rocking motion, wiggle the anchor free. If it won’t give and remains secure, stop, or you risk excessive damage to the wall. Move on to Method 2.
METHOD 2: BACK IT OUT
Choose a screwdriver that will fit snuggly into the mouth of the anchor and tap it into place with a hammer. Turn the screwdriver counter-clockwise to back the drywall anchor out. If it won’t budge, or turns but doesn’t back out, proceed to Method 3 (if you have a cutting wheel) or consider Method 4 to sink the anchor into the wall.
METHOD 3: CUT AND HAMMER IT
Don protective goggles and attach a 1-inch cutting wheel to a drill. Cut the top off the drywall anchor. Then tap a wide nail against the anchor mouth with a hammer until the drywall anchor falls back behind the wall. Score the drywall around the anchor head with the cutting wheel or, if you don’t have a drill with a cutting wheel, a utility knife. Then place a screwdriver with a head wider than the anchor’s mouth, but not wider than the drywall anchor itself, and firmly tap the screwdriver until the anchor falls out behind the back of the wall.
METHOD 4: RECESS IT
Perhaps the simplest way to deal with multiple unwanted drywall anchors, or those in drywall that’s brittle or water damaged, is to recess rather than remove them altogether. Score the drywall around the anchor head with a utility knife. Position a screwdriver wider than the anchor mouth over the anchor head, and squarely but lightly tap the screwdriver with a hammer until you sink the drywall anchor partway into the drywall. Once the anchor is recessed, patch.
THE PATCHING PROCESS
After you’ve mastered how to remove drywall anchors or recessed the smattering of fasteners out of sight, patch the remaining hole with drywall compound.
Tap a hammer lightly around the edges of the hole until the edges are flat, flush with the wall. Wipe the wall free of drywall dust with a dry rag.
Apply enough drywall compound to fill the hole with a putty spatula. Do an “X” motion over the repair spot with the spatula to get the putty flush with the wall while removing excess. Let dry overnight.
Sand the dried putty with medium-grit sandpaper. Wipe dust off with a dry cloth and touch up the paint.