Category: How To’s & Quick Tips


How To: Sweat Copper Pipe

Ready to take on more complex plumbing jobs? Learn this technique of creating leak-proof joints.

SHARES
How to Sweat Copper Pipes

Photo: istockphoto.com

For DIYers eager to take on plumbing tasks, one of the most important skills to master is how to sweat copper pipe—a process commonly referred to as soldering—in order to achieve leak-proof joints. The job consists of two main tasks: first prep work to clean the pipes, and then the heating process for flowing solder to seal pieces (two pipes or, more commonly, a pipe and a joint) together. Be sure to dress for the job in a heavy, long-sleeved shirt and wear insulated gloves to protect against potential drips of molten metal. Also keep in mind that if your pipes aren’t already cut to length, you’ll need to do that prior to sweating. While sweating copper pipe can seem intimidating at first, with patience and attention to detail you should soon be a pro.

MATERIALS NEEDED
- Copper pipes
- 120-grit emery cloth
- Wire fitting brush, sized to the pipe you’re working with (optional)
- Lead-free tinning flux (sometimes called soldering paste or plumbing flux)
- Acid brush
- Insulated gloves
- Clean rags
- Safety goggles
- Lead-free solder
- Flame protector cloth (optional, but recommended)
- Propane soldering torch

We recommend that you learn on practice pipes, a worthwhile investment until you build enough confidence to tackle plumbing in your home.

How to Sweat Copper Pipes and Fittings

Photo: istockphoto.com

STEP 1
Examine inside all cut copper pipes to ensure that the burr (a ridge of copper shards caused by the saw where the cut was made) has been removed, to allow unimpeded water flow once the joints are sweated. If burr remains, follow the steps to remove it here.

STEP 2
Clean both the outside and inside of the first inch or so of pipes (the cut lengths and/or the joint) with emery cloth, which you can find in home centers and hardware stores sold alongside flux and solder. If a wire fitting brush is handy, it will make short work of cleaning inside the copper pipe. Otherwise, wrap the emery cloth around your index finger, stick it in the mouth of the pipe, and twist to clean.

Cleaned copper will shine like a brand new penny. After cleaning, it’s critical to avoid touching the copper pipe with your bare hands, lest natural oils and dirt on your skin interfere with the sweating process.

How to Sweat Copper Pipes using Plumbing Flux

Photo: istockphoto.com

STEP 3
Don insulated work gloves for protection against the acid in the flux. Apply a thin, even layer of tinning or plumbing flux to the newly cleaned sections of the exterior and interior of the copper pipes with an acid or flux brush. Wipe off excess flux with a clean rag.

STEP 4
Hang flame protector cloth over any wood, metal, or other surface capable of scorching within 8 inches of the work area where you’ll be using the propane torch and put on a pair of goggles for eye protection. Fire up the torch and hold it about 2 inches from the fitting. Pass it slowly over the flux-covered sections for 10 to 20 seconds until the flux begins to melt, becoming shiny. The copper will soon darken and the flux will sizzle and/or bubble, even smoke. This means the acid has begun to work. The surface will become dull and etched, creating a bondable surface.

STEP 5
Wearing your insulated gloves, push the connecting pieces together until fully sealed (or as far as they’ll go). Twist the copper pipes slightly to distribute flux evenly inside the joint. Wipe off excess flux with a clean rag.

STEP 6
Set your torch to a lower-power “rosebud” flame. A full-power torch flame resembles a cone with a narrow point—the point heats the area it touches more than it heats the rest of the copper pipe. A rosebud flame, however, wraps around the pipe, bringing the whole pipe up to sweating temperature at once. This allows for cleaner, more even sweating. Using the rosebud flame, begin heating the connecting pipes at the joint seam.

How to Sweat Copper Pipes

Photo: istockphoto.com

STEP 7
Hold the lead-free solder opposite to the rosebud flame at a 90-degree angle to the joint seam. (Since leaded solder is still sold in stores, be sure to check that you supply is actually lead-free—a critical choice for pipes that route water supply.)

Now, touch the heated pipe with the solder. If the pipe is hot enough, the solder will melt—this is called “flowing the solder.” If the pipe isn’t hot enough, the solder won’t melt or flow, so keep it up with the torch until the solder melts upon touching the joint. Once the melting point is achieved, solder will trickle down, flowing around the seam, sealing the two pipes together, successfully sweating the joint.

STEP 8
Turn off the propane torch and set it down. (Note: Never leave the torch on when it’s not in use, as it could easily fall over and become an extreme fire hazard.) Wipe off any excess solder with a clean rag.

Allow the pipe to cool for at least a full minute before applying any pressure. You’ve successfully sweated your first copper pipe—well done!


How To: Clean Aluminum

Using only a handful of household products, you can make your dull aluminum utensils, sinks, and outdoor furniture shine like new once more.

How to Clean Aluminum

Photo: istockphoto.com

The world’s most abundant metal, aluminum, contributes to many products homeowners use every day: pots, pans, utensils, furniture, and even car parts. In any of these examples, its naturally soft exterior is often anodized—or combined with other metals, like copper or magnesium—to create an alloy that stands up to regular wear and tear. As with many other metals, aluminum products can acquire an unattractive (yet harmless) dull appearance over time resulting from the metal’s natural reaction to oxygen. Removing this tarnish requires careful handling and cleaning, since scrubbing and abrasive cleaners can scratch or discolor the surface. Whether you’re looking to restore shine to your cookware, sink, or furnishings, follow the outlined steps below for how to clean aluminum properly.

How to Clean Aluminum

Photo: istockphoto.com

CLEANING ALUMINUM UTENSILS AND POTS

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Mild dish soap
- Aluminum pot
- White vinegar
- Whole lemons
- Cream of tartar
- Scrub sponge or pad
- Clean rags
- Non-abrasive metal polish

For regular maintenance, hand wash aluminum utensils and pots with mild dish soap and warm water. If your kitchenware has stuck-on stains, try the following method—which cleans pots and utensils at the same time!

STEP 1
Remove all food and grease from your aluminum utensils with soap and water, then place the items in a large aluminum pot. Don’t use pots made with cast iron or other metals for this method, since the acid involved can damage their finishes.

STEP 2
Fill the pot with water, leaving about 1 to 2 inches from the top for boiling. For every quart of water, add 2 tablespoons of a cleaning agent of your choice: white vinegar, lemon juice, or cream of tartar.

STEP 3
Bring the pot of water to a boil, and simmer for about 15 minutes. The aluminum interior of the pot should appear brighter. Allow the contents to cool before pouring out the water.

STEP 4
Rinse and dry the utensils, then use a non-scratch scrub sponge or pad to gently rub the inside of the pot. Rinse with water and dry thoroughly with clean rags.

STEP 5
To tackle stubborn discoloration on the outside of aluminum pans, it’s best to use a non-abrasive metal polish by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Mild discoloration on the outside of pans can be eliminated with the same method for cleaning an aluminum sink, listed below.

 

How to Clean Aluminum

Photo: istockphoto.com

CLEANING AN ALUMINUM SINK

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Dish soap
- Sponge
- Whole lemon
- Table salt
- Clean cloths

To prevent a build-up of grime and food particles in your aluminum sink, regularly clean the surface with dish soap, a sponge, and warm water. Avoid scrubbing the sink with abrasive brushes or pads, so you don’t damage the soft metal. Use the following deep-cleaning method when you notice a tarnished or dull appearance to the aluminum.

STEP 1
Clean the sink with dish soap and water to remove all traces of grease. Rinse well.

STEP 2
Cut a lemon in half, and dip it in table salt. Scrub the surface of the sink with the lemon until you notice the aluminum brightening.

STEP 3
Rinse well with water and a cloth. Dry thoroughly with a clean, dry rag.

 

How to Clean Aluminum

Photo: istockphoto.com

CLEANING ALUMINUM FURNITURE

MATERIALS AND TOOLS:
- Hose
- Mild dish soap
- Rags
- Large bowl
- White vinegar
- Cream of tartar
- Lemon
- Soft scrubbing pad (optional)
- Salt (optional)
- Car wax (for outdoor furniture)

If your aluminum furniture is coated or painted, cleaning it depends more on its exterior finish than its aluminum base. For example, vinyl-coated aluminum furniture should be treated as a vinyl item rather than an aluminum one. The following method works well for uncoated, unpainted aluminum furniture, like patio chairs and  dining tables—just save your cleaning for a cloudy or cool day, since aluminum tends to get too hot to handle in direct sun.

STEP 1
Soak your furniture with water from a hose, then clean with soapy water and a rag.

STEP 2
Mix a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water in a large bowl. You can choose to use another acid like cream of tartar or lemon juice, but vinegar is the cheapest option. The exact measurements will depend on the size of your aluminum furniture, but at least 2 cups of water and 2 cups of vinegar should be a good starting point.

STEP 3
Soak a clean rag in the solution, then apply it to the surface of your furniture. You can also rub the solution in with a soft scrubbing pad. For difficult spots with greater discoloration, resort to the lemon-and-salt method used for cleaning aluminum sinks (listed above).

STEP 4
Once the aluminum surface brightens up, rinse the furniture thoroughly with your hose. Dry with clean cloths.

STEP 5 (optional)
If you’re working with outdoor furniture, finish with a coat of your favorite brand of car wax applied per the manufacturer’s instructions. This layer will protect the surface from weather damage throughout the season.


How To: Make Scented Candles

Create a home that's all cozy and aglow this season with these easy DIY spiced candles.

SHARES
How to Make Candles

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Sure you can stock up on a basket’s worth when they go on sale at a home goods store, but scented candles actually make some of the best do-it-yourself gifts—easy to craft, extremely affordable, and speedy, too. Learn how to make candles in an afternoon, and you can customize the perfect fragrance from essentials oils and spices and mold the mixture in a creative container of your choice. Any upcycled glass jar (one that is heat-resistant), enamel cup, coffee tin, or ceramic planter can appear simply charming when filled to the brim with wax and a wick!

 

How to Make Candles - Supplies

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Wax flakes
- Metal or wooden spoon
- Old pan
- Glass, metal, or ceramic containers
- Pre-waxed candle wicks
- Scissors
- Metal collars
- Pliers
- Popsicle sticks
- Cinnamon
- Nutmeg powder
- Ground cloves
- Kraft paper or newspaper
- Toothpick
- Decorative tags
- Cord

 

How to Make Candles - Step 1

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 1
Drop the wax flakes into a pot. The amount you’ll need will be double the volume of the container. so use it as a scoop to be precise, so if you use a mug as candle container, you need to melt two mugs’ worth of wax flakes.

Place it on a stovetop burner set to medium-low heat, and stir the melting wax with a metal or wooden spoon—preferably not a utensil that you will use later to cook food.

 

How to Make Candles - Step 2

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 2
Thread a long, pre-waxed wick through the metal collar, and use pliers to squeeze the metal shut to hold the wick in place. This metal base prevents the flame’s heat from damaging—even breaking—the bottom of the container once the candle has burned completely.

Wash and dry your container of choice, then add a few drops of wax to its bottom and place the wick-threaded metal on top of it. Let it set a few seconds to cool. Extend the wick taut (but not so tight that you rip the metal from the bottom) and wrap it around a Popsicle stick that rests across the top of the container in order to prevent the wick from falling into the jar when you pour the melted wax in.

 

How to Make Candles - Step 3

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 3
Once all the flakes are melted, turn off the stove and stir in the spices. For every 2 cups of wax flakes, we’ve added 1 tablespoon of cinnamon, 1 tablespoon of nutmeg, and 1 one tablespoon of ground cloves to create a very wintry scent.

Alternatively, as you gain practice making candles, you can experiment to find what scents you like—some using only cinnamon and others playing with essential oils, like peppermint. Just beware that some essential oils are very flammable and should not come into contact with an open flame; read the packaging closely and heed any warnings before you try out any oil combinations.

 

How to Make Candles - Step 4

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 4
Protect your work surface with some paper (brown kraft paper or yesterday’s newspaper pages work just fine), then proceed to pour the melted wax slowly into your first container.

After you’ve filled the container three-quarters of the way, check that the wick is still centered and adjust if necessary. Let it partly cool and solidify, then poke a few holes a toothpick in order to remove eventual air pockets. Pour the last quarter of mix in, and let set for several hours.

Repeat this step to make candles out of whatever wax remains.

 

How to Make Candles - Step 5

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 5
Once the wax is set, trim the wicks to be a half-inch long each.

 

How to Make Candles - Step 6

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 6
Finally, use a cord or some twine to wrap a decorative tag around each of your candle holders. These will dress up the plain canisters (like our white ceramic planters) and even double as a gift tag should you need a place to write “to” and “from.” Display them on your mantle all season long and, when you’re ready, light the homemade candles to enjoy their sweet spiced fragrance.

 

How to Make Candles - Finished Project

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

How to Make Candles - Scented Candles

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

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.

 

DIY Projects Anyone Can Do

All of the Best Hands-on Tutorials from BobVila.com
Get the nitty-gritty details you need—and the jaw-dropping inspiration you want—from our collection of the favorite projects ever featured on BobVila.com. Whether your goal is to fix, tinker, build or make something better, your next adventure in DIY starts here.


How To: Make Your Own Dishwasher Detergent

Why waste money—or put your family’s health at risk—with store bought brands when you can DIY a safe, efficient cleanser for everything from plates and glassware to pots and pans.

How to Make Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

Photo: istockphoto.com

Enter any supermarket and it’s obvious that detergent is big business. Yet while the choices seem endless, today’s consumer is increasingly turning to homemade detergents. This is especially true for parents of young children, due to reports that detergent poisonings have risen more than 20 percent since the advent of the colorful cleaning “pods” that have flooded the market in recent years. (In 2016, poison centers received reports of 10,673 exposures to highly concentrated packets of laundry detergent by children 5 and younger. Symptoms include vomiting, wheezing, and gasping, as well as corneal abrasions from detergent getting into the eyes; this year, one child died after consuming a detergent pod.) While pods are certainly convenient, they’re costly—potentially raising your price-per-load by 50 percent. Depending on your brand of powdered detergents, pods, or combination thereof, you probably spend between $0.13 and $0.40 per load. The non-toxic, hardworking homemade dishwasher detergent described here runs about two pennies—that’s right, $0.02—per load. So whether you want to save money, protect your family and the environment, or simply know exactly what you’re cleaning with, you’ll want to give it a try today!

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Baking soda
- Baking dish
- Borax
- Kosher salt
- Unsweetened lemonade mix, powdered lemon, or citric acid
- Essential oil of choice (optional, for scent)

This recipe makes approximately 40 loads.

STEP 1
Make washing soda (sodium carbonate) from baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Pour about half an inch of baking soda on the bottom of the baking dish, and bake for one hour, stirring once or twice, until it changes from silky and powdery to more grainy in texture. Let cool and store in an airtight jar, labeled “washing soda.”

How to Make Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

Photo: istockphoto.com

STEP 2
Combine one cup of washing soda with the remaining ingredients (1 cup Borax, ½ cup kosher salt, ½ cup unsweetened lemonade mix, and up to 10 drops of essential oil) in an airtight container, such as a large mason jar. Label it “dishwasher detergent.”

STEP 3
Use one tablespoon of homemade dishwasher detergent per load of dishes, proceeding with your usual washing method. If you wash at cooler temperatures or have “hard water” in your region, you may need a bit more per load. Experiment with quantities, increasing by a tablespoon or two. Do not add liquid dish detergent to this mix, which could damage your appliance.

Helpful Tips When Using Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

• Homemade dishwasher detergents work better when you rinse stubborn food off first.

• If you haven’t the time or inclination to make your own washing soda, purchase it ready-made online or at grocery or hardware stores. However, don’t use plain baking soda in your dishwasher detergent recipe—it won’t do the trick!

• Don’t let the chemical-sounding name bother you! Borax—scientifically called “sodium tetraborate” or “sodium borate”—is a naturally occurring mineral, a salt product derived from boric acid. While not ideally ingestible, it has the same safety rating (“1”) as salt and baking soda. So if your child managed to consume some homemade dishwasher detergent, mild nausea might ensue. Borax may also irritate the eyes.

• If you have “hard water,” increase the kosher salt from half to a full cup. This will reduce build-up that might otherwise cause pesky spots on glassware.


How To: Use Chalk Paint

Turn forgettable furniture and ho-hum surfaces into showstopping home accents with this versatile and low-maintenance paint finish.

How to Use Chalk Paint

Photo: istockphoto.com

Putting a new face on tired-looking home accents can be as simple as brushing on a few coats of paint. But if you want to achieve a unique antique-style finish, think outside the conventional can of latex paint and opt for chalk paint instead. A water-based decorative paint developed and made popular by Annie Sloan, chalk paint is a nondamaging blend of calcium carbonate, talc, and pigments that delivers a whimsical matte white finish with chalk-white undertones. It has become the veneer of choice for DIYers looking to revive their outdated wooden furnishings, although it’s also suitable for use on masonry, drywall, metal, glass, and fabric. Here’s how to use chalk paint—along with a list of basic painting tools and some useful information about techniques—to produce an appealing distressed finish on nearly any surface.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Old newspaper or brown builder’s paper
- Sandpaper (fine and medium grits) (optional)
- Clear shellac (optional)
- Cloth pad (optional)
- Soft cloth
- Bowl of soapy water
- Painter’s tape
- Chalk paint
- Natural-bristle paintbrush, foam roller, or spray gun
- Paint pan (optional)
- Clear or tinted chalk paint wax
- Soft wax brush

STEP 1
If possible, work on your paint project indoors—chalk paint adheres best at room temperature. Protect the floor of your work space from paint splatter by laying out newspaper or brown paper underneath the item you’re painting. Detach any removable elements from the piece, including chair cushions, shelves, drawers, hinges, knobs, and other hardware.

STEP 2
You can generally skip sanding and priming before applying chalk paint, even when working with varnished wood pieces, because the paint can adhere to most surfaces. Even so, some furniture finishes warrant special treatment before painting:

Paint-covered, rust-covered, or high-gloss surfaces like laminates could use a light sanding with 150-grit or finer sandpaper in order to remove obstacles to adhesion.

• Untreated wood should have a coat of clear shellac applied with a cloth pad before painting; cure it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This coat prevents tannins in the wood from bleeding into the paint and altering the color.

Using a soft cloth saturated in soapy water, wipe down the entire surface of the piece to lift dirt, debris, oil, and sanding dust. Give the surface a once-over with a clean, damp cloth, then let it dry fully. Cover any areas you don’t want to paint with painter’s tape.

How to Use Chalk Paint

Photo: istockphoto.com

STEP 3
Purchase enough chalk paint in your favorite shade to cover the piece you’re working on. (Typically, a liter of chalk paint can cover 140 square feet—roughly the surface area of a small dresser.) Before opening the paint can, turn it upside down to loosen the contents, then shake it vigorously to ensure that the chalk paint is well mixed.

STEP 4
Depending on the size of the object you’re painting, you can opt to use a brush, roller, or spray gun to apply chalk paint. How you apply the paint will depend on your applicator of choice:

To use chalk paint with a brush: For a smooth, uniform finish, choose a natural-bristle brush with long, flexible bristles. Dip the brush into the can, and tap the handle against the lid of the can to remove excess paint. Then, apply the paint in unidirectional strokes to one section of the piece at a time until the entire surface is covered.

• To use chalk paint with a roller: Pour the chalk paint into a paint pan, then load it onto a high-density foam roller (depending on the size of the furniture, a four-inch mini roller may be the best option). Scrape off the excess paint on the grid of the pan. Roll a thin layer of paint in a long, unidirectional stroke, then pull it back and make one more stroke in the original direction. Repeat this process until the entire surface is coated.

• To use chalk paint with a spray gun: Chalk paint is a naturally thick medium that may not flow readily from all spray guns. You can get around this by watering down the chalk paint (adding approximately two tablespoons of water for every cup of paint) before loading it into the gun. Or, you can opt to load the paint as is and operate the gun at maximum pressure, preferably with a spray tip measuring at least 1.8 millimeters to enable the fluid to flow. To avoid risking damage to your spray gun, test this method on a small, inconspicuous part of the piece before tackling larger areas.

Allow the first coat to dry completely according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

STEP 5
A single coat of chalk paint is sufficient for many applications. If, however, you need to cover any visual imperfections, or if you want to create a two-tone decorative finish in which the bottom layer of paint shows through around the distressed edges, you can opt to apply a second coat in the same color or a lighter shade.

STEP 6
Now, examine the finish. If you want a more polished matte look, keep it as is; otherwise, to achieve a subtly worn patina—a finish that chalk paint is famous for—distress the painted surface with medium-grit sandpaper, focusing on the edges or details you want to accentuate.

STEP 7
When you’re happy with the finish, seal the paint with one or more coats of clear or tinted wax, gently massaging the wax into the painted surface with a soft wax brush. As a rule of thumb, use a 500-milliliter tin of wax for every three to four liters of paint. Although wax can dry in less than a half hour, it’s best to let it sit overnight. Total curing of the wax can take up to three weeks, although the furniture is ready to use as soon as the wax is dry.

STEP 8
Finally, reinstall any hardware you removed from the piece, and let your chalk-painted accent shine!

 

All the Expert Painting Advice from BobVila.com
Of all the options available to remodelers, paint provides the quickest, easiest, and most affordable way to achieve a transformation, inside or out. Ready to look at your home in a new way? Click now for the color ideas to make your project beautiful.


3 Ways to Waterproof Wood

That natural beauty demands protection! Choose the products and techniques that work best with your wood.

How to Waterproof Wood

Photo: istockphoto.com

Some of most delightful furniture, cabinetry, and trim work are crafted from wood, the world’s oldest and best-loved building material. Without protection, however, most wood will suffer from exposure to moisture and high humidity, resulting in swelling, warping, or even rotting. Fortunately, you can easily avail yourself of products that protect wood while enhancing its natural beauty. When choosing the best method for how to waterproof wood, keep in mind that not all waterproofing products are the same—some are better suited for interior or exterior items, while others are geared towards dark- or light-grained wood. Here, we’ve outlined the three surefire ways to preserve your wood for years to come.

How to Waterproof Wood

Photo: istockphoto.com

CREATE A WARM HAND-RUBBED OIL FINISH
Linseed oil, derived from the seeds of the flax plant, and Tung oil, extracted from the Chinese Tung tree, are the basis for nearly all hand-rubbed (a.k.a. wiping) oil finishes. Employed for centuries, these oils beautify and protect such dark-grained woods as walnut and mahogany, and they’re still in use today—with a few improvements. Blending the oils with other ingredients hastens drying times and eliminates stickiness. You can purchase pre-blended Tung and linseed products, or mix your own for a custom finish.

A standard hand-rubbed oil blend consists of one-part oil (either Tung or boiled linseed), one-part mineral spirits, and one-part polyurethane varnish. Stir thoroughly before applying with a natural bristle paintbrush to dark-grained wood that’s been sanded and cleaned. (If looking for how to waterproof wood that is lighter in color, such as pine or ash, skip this method in favor of one of the next two; hand-rubbed oils have a tendency to yellow over time.) Let the oil soak into the surface, and reapply to any spots that look dry. Then wipe off the residual oil, rubbing well with clean dry rags to remove all excess. Allow the wood to dry completely; this can take anywhere from a few hours to overnight, depending on the degree of oil in the mixture. Finally, sand lightly with fine-grit sandpaper. Repeat the process with as many additional coats as required to obtain your desired finish.

As you become familiar with oil-rubbed blends, feel free to experiment with the formula. For a thicker product, reduce the amount of mineral spirits. If you’d like more working time before the finish dries, reduce the amount of varnish. Add more varnish for a glossier finish and quicker drying time. You can create a multitude of custom blends!

Note: Oily rags used to rub away excess oil can spontaneously combust—yup, even without being near flame, because as the oil dries it generates heat. Take precautions by keeping a bucket of water handy while working; as a rag becomes oil-saturated, drop it in the bucket while and continue with a clean rag. Later, hang rags out to dry separately. When completely dry, you can throw them away without risk, but rags should not be reused.

 

How to Waterproof Wood

Photo: istockphoto.com

USE SEALANTS FOR BEST PROTECTION
Polyurethane, varnish, and lacquer are tried-and-true sealants with excellent waterproofing properties. They’re either brushed or sprayed onto clean, sanded wood and allowed to dry completely, then the piece is lightly re-sanded and recoated. For best results, apply in a “room temperature” environment and never shake or briskly stir sealants before application—that can cause air bubbles that would remain on the surface, even after the sealant dries. Though relatively quick drying (some in as little as 15 minutes), these sealants often contain chemical solvents so ventilation is necessary during application. Read on for the pros and cons of these popular sealants.

• Polyurethane sealants, which contain various amounts of solvents in addition to acrylic and polyurethane resins, let you choose your favorite finish effect, from a high gloss shine to a gentle soft sheen. Plus, today’s polyurethane won’t yellow, so it’s a good choice for light-toned woods. Oil-based polyurethane offers the greatest durability, but brush cleanup requires mineral spirits or turpentine. With water-based polyurethane, cleanup is a snap with soap and water.

• Varnish, a combination of resin, solvent, and drying oil, gives a hard-shell finish that resists scratches without yellowing. To waterproof wood that will be placed outdoors, choose marine varnish, which contains UV absorbers to resist sun damage. For interior use on end tables and coffee tables, spar varnish is a good choice to resist pesky cup rings. Clean brushes with turpentine or mineral spirits.

• Lacquer, a mixture of dissolved tree resin or synthetic resin in alcohol, is the sealant of choice for indoor hardwood furniture. While it can develop a yellowish tinge over time that’s considered unattractive on lighter woods, on deep-toned wood lacquer brings out a rich, warm finish that’s uniquely scratch resistant. It’s available in a variety of sheen choices, and can be thinned with lacquer thinner. For optimum results, apply lacquer in multiple light coats. Note: Lacquer emits off strong fumes, so ventilation is absolutely essential; work outdoors or open windows and use fans.

 

How to Waterproof Wood

Photo: istockphoto.com

WORK FAST WITH STAIN-SEALANT COMBOS
When time is of the essence or you’re protecting a large project, such as a wood deck, go for a stain-sealant combo. These multitasking products add color while providing water resistance in a single step. Stain-sealant products contain color pigments with the addition of binders, which can be oil-, water- or alkyd-based. Depending on the concentration of pigment in the product, the final result can be transparent, opaque, or in-between. If applying a stain-sealer to exterior wood, you’ll want to reapply every year or two to keep the wood protected.

With the exception of alkyd-based products, stain-sealants don’t build up on the wood surface; instead, they soak in and any excess evaporates. Alkyd-based stain-sealants leave a light surface coating on the wood, making them better suited for interior wood items, such as indoor exposed beams or rustic furniture, that won’t require future applications. Outdoors, alkyd-based stain-sealers have a tendency to peel if the wood isn’t perfectly clean and dry when applied.


How To: Paint PVC Pipe

Why settle for off-the-shelf shades? Now you can spray a coat of longwearing color on this easy-to-use material for all sorts of DIY projects.

SHARES
How to Paint PVC Pipe

Photo: istockphoto.com

Tough and durable yet easy to cut, polyvinyl chloride piping (PVC)—originally developed for plumbing—is ideal for use in a variety of do-it-yourself projects, from wall-mounted organizers and funky herb planters to wine racks and even lighting fixtures. While the piping comes in a spectrum of brights these days, you’ll still want to learn how to paint PVC if you’ve got a more sophisticated palette in mind. Except there’s one hitch: Due to a molecular makeup that prevents most liquids from bonding to its surface, paint on PVC has always been likely to flake, bubble, or rub right off. Fortunately, recently developed spray paints that chemically bond with all kinds of plastics make it possible for determined DIYers to paint PVC pipe. Just keep in mind that while some plastic-rated paints purport to be no preparation required, we advise that you follow the prep steps here for the best possible results.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- PVC pipe
- 220-grit sandpaper (several sheets)
- Acetone (not nail polish remover)
- Rubber gloves (not latex, as acetone degrades latex)
- Clean rags
- Drop cloths, old newspaper, or plastic sheeting for painting
- Plastic-rated spray paint, such as consumer favorite Krylon Fusion

STEP 1
Plan to paint PVC on a low-humidity day, ideally between 50 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Choose a well-ventilated yet wind-free area to work in, such as a garage with doors and windows open for airflow. Note that acetone is extremely flammable, so it should be used and stored away from heat sources. Do not smoke while working with acetone, and wash up well after use.

STEP 2
Lightly scour the PVC pipe’s exterior by hand with 220-grit sandpaper. Skip the electric sander, which can wear down the pipe too much, too fast. Sand in all directions to avoid straight-line striations that can create an undesirable grooved surface. Be gentle, so you won’t weaken the pipe, yet thorough to avoid an uneven surface. Have plenty of sandpaper on hand, because the waxes in PVC pipe will come off on the paper, causing it to lose roughness.

How to Paint PVC Pipe

Photo: wikihow.com

STEP 3
Don rubber gloves, dampen a clean rag with acetone, and then wipe the surface of the PVC pipe. Allow to dry for 20 to 30 minutes. The acetone will remove all sanding dust while swelling the surface of the PVC to make it more porous for painting.

STEP 4
Lay drop cloths, plastic sheeting, or old newspapers over the floors or walls that could be subject to splatter or overspray, then arrange pipe for spraying. If painting long pieces, protect a wall, ladder, or chair from spray and prop the pipes against it. Or consider standing long pieces on a sturdy dowel for support so you can access all sides at once. Short pieces of PVC may be able to stand without additional support, making it simpler to get an all-over coat of paint.

STEP 5
Shake your plastic-rated spray paint thoroughly for 15 to 20 seconds. In a side-to-side sweeping motion, spray-paint the pipe, starting from the top and working your way down to the bottom. Paint PVC in thin, consistent layers, overlapping the paint as you move down the pipe, to avoid any drips.

STEP 6
Allow paint to dry per manufacturer’s instructions 20 to 30 minutes, before applying a second coat. If you had to lay the piping down to paint, wait until the first side is dry and then turn it over to access the other side. Avoid overlapping spray on areas you’ve already painted to achieve a nice, even coat. As in all spray-painting jobs, you’ll need to apply several coats in thin layers until the “true color” is reached.

STEP 7
Allow paint to air-dry and cure for at least 24 hours before using it in your project. For projects that could scrape or nick the pipe’s new coat of paint in the process, consider waiting a full week. If you’re uncertain, check the paint can for specific manufacturer-recommended drying times. Once your project is complete, keep painted pipes clean by wiping gently with a water-dampened rag.


How To: Sharpen Drill Bits

Follow this guide to go from dull to on point using a workbench basic, no fancy gadgets required.

How to Sharpen Drill Bits

Photo: istockphoto.com

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.

STEP 1
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.

STEP 2
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.

How to Sharpen Drill Bits

Photo: istockphoto.com

STEP 3
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.

STEP 4
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.

STEP 5
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.

STEP 6
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.

STEP 7
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.

 

How to Sharpen Drill Bits

Photo: istockphoto.com

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.


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.

DIY Serving Tray

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

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.

 

DIY Serving Tray - Supplies

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- 6mm plywood (20 x 20 inches minimum)
- Graphic compass
- Rope
- Ruler or protractor
- Pencil
- Pushpin
- 1-½-inch x ¼-inch wood lath (24 feet)
- Scrap wood
- Jigsaw
- Wood stain (3 shades)
- Paintbrush
- Wood glue
- Wood clamps (optional)
- Palm sander
- 60-grit sandpaper
- 100-grit sandpaper
- Transparent acrylic varnish

 

DIY Serving Tray - Step 1

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 1
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.

 

DIY Serving Tray - Step 2

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 2
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.

 

DIY Serving Tray - Step 3

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 3
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.

 

DIY Serving Tray - Step 4

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 4
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.

 

DIY Serving Tray - Step 5

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 5
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.

 

DIY Serving Tray - Step 6

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 6
Set the lath pieces aside, and use the jigsaw to cut the hexagon shape out of the plywood next.

 

DIY Serving Tray - Step 7

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 7
Sand all the pieces—plywood and lath, front and back—to remove splinters.

 

DIY Serving Tray - Step 8

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 8
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!

 

DIY Serving Tray - Step 9

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 9
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.

 

DIY Serving Tray - Step 10

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 10
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.

 

DIY Serving Tray - Completed Project

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

How to Make a DIY Serving Tray

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

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: Remove Drywall Anchors

Don’t get hung up on unwanted fasteners—take them out or camouflage them with the easy methods here.

How to Remove Drywall Anchors

Photo: istockphoto.com

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
- Screwdriver
- Hammer
- Goggles
- Drill with 1-inch cutting wheel
- Nail
- 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.

How to Remove Drywall Anchors

Photo: istockphoto.com

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.

STEP 1
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.

STEP 2
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.

STEP 3
Sand the dried putty with medium-grit sandpaper. Wipe dust off with a dry cloth and touch up the paint.