Family Handyman

Family Handyman April 2017

When it comes to home improvement, you need information you can trust. Inside each issue of The Family Handyman, you’ll find see-and-solve expert repair techniques, a variety of projects for every room and step-by-step, do-it-yourself photos.

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handy hints®

SHARE YOUR HANDY HINT WITH US! submissions@ I wanted an easier way to cut sheets of plywood into smaller pieces with my circular saw, so I built this cutting grid from 2x4s. I just set my grid on a couple of sawhorses and let the sawdust fly. When I’m done, I lean the grid against the wall for next time. I don’t worry about cutting into a wooden grid, and the screws are located low enough that the blade won’t hit them. — HAROLD NIEKAMP LADDER TOPPER I often work overhead on a ladder, and my heavy tool belt takes a toll on my back and legs. Now instead of wearing it, I cinch it around the top of my ladder, which keeps all my tools right where I need them. — TOM BOWARD LONG-REACH MAGNET Here’s…

amazing fire table

WHAT IT TAKES TIME 2 days COST $700 to $825 SKILL LEVEL Intermediate TOOLS Basic hand tools, drill, table saw, miter saw, trim nailer/compressor, concrete trowel, large wire cutters or small bolt cutters, and wheelbarrow or mixing tub Afire table is a beautiful addition to your outdoor living space—and an invitation to gather around, enjoy a drink and shoot the breeze. It’s also a stylish centerpiece that gives you a great opportunity to showcase your DIY prowess. And this is a fun build because it entails a variety of skills: woodworking, masonry, metal work and a little mechanical. It does require a few more-advanced tools, and at $825 it’s not the cheapest DIY project, but if you shop for one, you could easily spend a couple thousand dollars. This table is made from cedar, but you can use pressure-treated wood,…

home care + repair

Burn spots caused by dogs relieving themselves on the lawn are usually about 4 to 8 in. wide with dead grass in the middle and a ring of dark green grass around them. Dog urine contains high concentrations of acids, salts and nitrogen, which kill the grass. The only way to fix the burn spots is to plant new grass. Here are the steps. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER You probably know how to reset a circuit breaker, but what about your kids or the baby-sitter? Use this tutorial to show them how. The electrical panel You’ll usually find the main circuit breaker panel—a gray, metal box—in a utility room, garage or basement. Don’t worry about opening the panel’s door. All the dangerous stuff is behind another steel cover. Behind the door is the main breaker…

home smarts

Your home is probably the safest place to be in an electrical storm. But lightning can still get to you through the conductive paths in your house: your wiring, your plumbing and water. Talking on a corded phone, taking a shower or bath, working on your desktop computer and handling power tools during an electrical storm aren’t much safer than standing outside. Stay away from all water and appliances until the storm passes. Don’t live with a broken dead bolt A dead bolt is the key component of door security. The doorknob latch is no substitute. So if your dead bolt no longer works, replace it now. It’s a surprisingly easy job. Just remove two screws in the thumb latch, then remove two screws to remove the plate and bolt. Install the…

easy-to-build patio planter

Araised planter “beets” traditional gardening in a bunch of ways. And our planter is tops for easy construction, sturdiness and convenience. Plus, the curves and trim make it a pretty addition to your deck or patio. You’ll get about 8 sq. ft. of planting area. If you need more, you could make a larger planter, but consider building two instead: A bigger planter filled with soil is tough to move. 1 The optional trellis supports climbing plants like tomatoes and peas. 2 Side tables are convenient work surfaces and handles when you need to move the planter. 3 Boards protrude at ends or corners. Those “reveals” hide mistakes. If your measurements or cuts are a little off, no one will notice. 4 Notched joinery is super sturdy and easy enough for a beginner. 5 Lower…

cure a wet basement

W ater in your basement? Don’t call the basement waterproofing company yet. According to our expert, many basement leaks can be cured with a weekend’s work and a few hundred dollars’ worth of dirt and plastic. We talked to Robert Vassallo, owner of Complete Building Solutions, an engineering firm that specializes in solving waterrelated building problems. His firm takes on many complicated wet basement jobs, but he was quick to point out that a huge percentage of wet basements can be remedied by simply regrading the landscape, and adding or upgrading gutters and downspouts. The graphic at right shows the key elements for an effective solution. Of course, this fix will work only if the water entering your basement is coming from rain or melting snow. But it’s pretty easy to tell.…