Family Handyman

Family Handyman March 2018

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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stuff we love

SMALL-SPACE SOLUTION Sweet Little Sucker I have a big shop with a dust collection system, two wet/dry vacs and an 18-in. broom for cleaning up. So I wondered, “When am I ever going to use a pintsize tool like the Milwaukee 18-volt vacuum?” The answer was “hourly.” The M18 Compact Vacuum 0882-20 isn’t a wimpy broom-closet hand vac—it’s a real tool. I took it for a test drive, and powered by the 5.0-Ah battery pack, it worked full tilt for 28 minutes before sputtering. I used it to vacuum floors and drawers, suck up dust around stationary tools, clean off my workbench, get dust out of cabinet crevices and remove sawdust from my clothes. I even connected the hose to my random orbital sander and put it to work as a point-of-use dust…

handy hints

Instant paper towel holder If you need a way to hang paper towels in your workshop, find an old 9-in. paint roller, hang it on a nail and put a roll of paper towels on it. You can move it around wherever you want. And best of all, it’s free! RAMON CHAVEZ Handy rag cutter I cut up old T-shirts and towels to use as rags in my shop. To speed up the process, I clamp a utility knife in my bench vise and make a cut to help me tear the scraps. If you’re careful, you can make the entire cut with the knife. ISAAC RICHARDSON Easy I.D. for switched outlets I can never remember which of the outlets on my duplex receptacles are powered by the light switch and which one is always live, so…

getting started in welding

Whether you’d like to build custom cars or just fix a cracked lawn mower deck, learning to weld gives your DIY game a serious boost. To help you choose a machine that meets your needs, we’ll outline the three basic welding systems. Ideally, you’ll pick one that can handle both your first effort and more advanced projects as your skills grow. MEET THE EXPERT: Jordan Dickinson is a professional welder and the owner/operator of Union Speed & Style, a custom auto, motorcycle and fabrication shop in Monticello, MN. Welding basics All of these welding systems work essentially the same: An electric arc generates enough heat between the electrode (stick or wire) and the metal being joined to melt both together and create the bond. To ensure a strong bond, the super-hot area around the weld…

welding tools & gear

1. Auto-darkening helmet ($40 to $100). These helmets let you see normally through the face shield until the gun sparks. As soon as the spark is detected, the face shield darkens to protect your eyes. 2. Welding jacket ($20 to $80). Made from thick leather, a jacket prevents sparks and molten metal from burning your clothes or skin. 3. Square. This tool lets you make square and angled lines on steel. 4. Chipping hammer. You’ll use this to remove slag from the weld bead after stick welding. 5. Sheet metal gauge. You have to know the thickness of your material. This is the perfect quick reference. 6. Metal file. You’ll need a few files for shaping parts that you can’t get at with an angle grinder. 7. Framing jig ($50). A framing jig is indispensable for…

plaster & lath tear-off

Do it faster, safer and better Removing plaster and lath is always an ugly ordeal, but my first try, 25 years ago, was the worst. I made every mistake in the book—mistakes that cost me time, frustration and blood. Since then, I’ve gotten smarter. Here’s what I’ve learned. Turn off the power! Old walls hold hazardous surprises like wires without insulation and devices without junction boxes. In one wall I tore out, the wiring was embedded in the plaster! So turn off the circuits inside the wall and check any outlets or switches with a noncontact voltage tester before starting the tear-out. Prepare for a dust storm Demolishing plaster and lath is a dusty, filthy job. Wear a dust mask, cover doorways with painter’s plastic, turn off the furnace or central air conditioning, and cover…

wave bench

It’s a conversation piece with a practical purpose, a woodworking masterpiece you can build in a few afternoons. This bench hits the sweet spot as a project that’s both functional and beautiful, and a vehicle for showing off your skills. If you’re handy with a drill press, table saw, jigsaw and router, you’re ready to build it. Figure A Wave Bench Overall dimensions: 72" Long x 19-1/4" Tall x 14-1/4" Deep MATERIALS LIST Figure B Wave Bench Parts CUTTING LIST What you’ll need I made this bench from cherry, a wood that’s as resistant to rot as cedar or redwood. Hardwood lumber prices vary widely, so your cost could be much higher. Whatever wood species you choose, beware of knots. Knots near the center of a board aren’t a problem, but knots near edges may disrupt the…