Family Handyman

Family Handyman April 2019

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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VINTAGE HANDY HINTS® We’ve cracked open the Family Handyman vault to show off our favorite reader-submitted Handy Hints from decades past. Turns out they’re still pretty brilliant today. To see all 100 of these gems, go to and search for “vintage handy hints.” LEARN MORE. BUILD MORE. Calling DIYers who want to tackle it all! Get unlimited access to Family Handyman’s complete library of quick DIY University online classes. This includes two exciting new projects per month—things you’ve been dreaming about, and projects that may not have occurred to you. Get ready to build a wall-mounted bike rack or your own workshop, add elegant kitchen storage and a tile backsplash, install a sleek USB charging station, and much more! Start your 14-day FREE Trial at See More “Stuff We Love” Have you signed…

stuff welove

A LONGER-PIN PINNER DeWalt has introduced a micro pinner that can fire 2-in. pins recessed into oak. It’s affordable, too. Many other name-brand versions that can do this cost at least twice as much. This 23-gauge pin nailer excels at pinning together delicate material, leaving barely visible nail holes, and holding edge banding while the glue sets. It features a simple jam release latch to make removing jammed pins a cinch. And because it stops firing when you run out of nails, you don’t have to worry that you’ve been shooting blanks. You can get this pin nailer for about $150 at home centers. SMART PLUGS TO EASE YOUR MIND How often have you been at work worrying whether you left the iron or space heater on at home? Well, if it’s plugged into…

handy hints®

Seed Starter Tubes Empty tubes of toilet paper and paper towels make perfect seed starters. Set the tubes in a tray, fill them with potting soil and plant your seeds. The tubes decompose when you plant the seedlings in the garden. Keep the tubes below the soil surface so they don’t wick moisture away from the roots. BONNIE FALK KITCHEN TRAY IN THE BATHROOM A silverware drawer insert works just as well in the bathroom as it does in the kitchen. The various compartments are perfect for organizing toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors, clippers, lip balm and more. CARRIE BREINIK GREAT GROUT HAZE CLEANER When I tile a backsplash or floor, I like to use a scrap of carpet to clean off the grout haze and buff the tiles to a shine in one easy step. The carpet fibers…

make your shop smarter

As the owner of a tech design and development company, I like to “unplug” at the end of the day and tinker with my 1925 Model T or my BMW race car. I do have a computer in the garage to search for parts or watch instructional videos on YouTube. I also use an Amazon Echo in the garage. I know this doesn’t sound like unplugging, but just giving voice commands doesn’t seem “techy” to me. Here are a few ways I use my smart speaker in the garage: INTERCOM: Yeah, it’s easy to pick up the phone or walk to the house to talk to my wife, but a smart speaker makes it even easier, provided you have a speaker in the house as well. I just say, “Drop…

push sticks prevent impalement

Table saw kickback happens when a board trapped between the blade and the fence gets flung back at you after the cut is completed. The results can be dangerous, as you can see from the photo above. This particular mishap occurred while I was ripping 1/4-in.-thick splines for a hardwood floor. I made the mistake of using a push stick that was so shredded from overuse that the board kicked back and blew right under it, skewering my chair! Fortunately, there are several ways to safely rip thin strips. One of the easiest methods is shown below. This push stick, more accurately called a push block, somewhat resembles a shoe with a heel. To make one, cut a notch in a 16-in.-long 2x6 a bit shallower than the thickness of the board…

a better water heater option

Q We’ve been getting high electric bills and want to replace our old electric water heater with a natural gas model. But I’m afraid that running the exhaust vent will be a hassle. Is there an easy way to do it? MICHAEL BANKS, PORTLAND, OR A It’s much easier to run the vent if you install a “power-vented” type of natural gas (or propane) water heater. This type of venting system is different from what you see on most gas water heaters. Most have a “natural-draft” type of vent (photo above), where the hot waste gases rise through an open draft diverter and into metal pipes, which eventually lead to the outdoors. Running one of these vents is complicated and may be expensive. In contrast, a power-vented type (right) uses a fan to…