Family Handyman

Family Handyman May 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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electrical tools with onboard voltage tester

Noncontact voltage testers are great for making sure the power is off before you start an electrical project. But the testers are easy to lose track of and misplace— which pocket is it in? Tool manufacturer Gardner Bender solves the problem of lost testers by incorporating a tester right into the handles of its wire stripper and screwdriver—tools you’re bound to have on hand whenever you’re doing electrical work. Simply press the button and move the tool handle near the wires to test before touching. Or, slide the tester off the tool handle to use it as a freestanding unit. Find the GST-70M Circuit Alert Voltage sensing stripper (about $30) and SDT-10 screwdriver (about $16) at home centers.…

trendspotting at the builders’ show

Expert advice from the job site. TREND: SMART APPLIANCES Every year the editors here at The Family Handyman visit the International Builders’ Show, which recently teamed up with The Kitchen & Bath Industry Show. We always find cool new products, modern building trends and a few fashionable new styles. The only downside was coming home to our own houses, which seem kinda dull by comparison. Here’s some of what we saw this year: Talk to Your Oven If it makes your house “smarter,” it’s popular. GE has a line of appliances that work in conjunction with Amazon’s voice-controlled Echo device. Now you can go anywhere in your house with an Echo nearby and ask Alexa (Echo’s persona) to preheat the oven. You can command your dryer to keep tumbling until you’re ready to pull the…

a woodworking luxury

I use a router for most of my woodworking projects. I leave my monster 3-hp router in the router table for the big stuff and prefer to grab a compact trim router for freehand routing. I recently bought a Ridgid 18-volt Brushless Compact Router to “possibly” replace my corded model. I knew I would love not having to worry about shredding a cord or having it get hung up on a corner. But I was a little concerned that a cordless router would be top-heavy or lacking in power—I saved my receipt just in case. It turns out my worries were unfounded: The router felt balanced and comfortable in my hand, and I noticed no measurable difference in power. Setting the bit height and dialing in the depth were easy and…

toilet shopping tips

Sick of your old, leaky, water hog of a toilet and want to buy a new one? You’ll find water-efficient toilets with an array of options. Our friends at Maximum Performance (MaP) Testing make a living putting toilets through their paces and offered these tips for the next time you go toilet shopping. Bowl height This is the distance from the floor to the top of the toilet bowl’s rim. The standard height for toilets used to be 14 to 15 in. But today, you’ll find toilets that are 16 to 18 in. high. These are often called “comfort height” or “ADA height” or something similar. The additional height makes getting on and off the toilet easier and is more comfortable for lots of people, especially the elderly. Child heights of 10…

mechanics’ tool tips

Expert advice on repair, maintenance and gear. OUR ANNUAL TOOL ISSUE! Proper way to torque lug nuts Did you know there’s a right way and a wrong way to tighten lug nuts? Most people think tighter is better. Not true. Overtightening lug nuts is the No. 1 cause of warped brake rotors (called “brake rotor lateral run-out”). Warped rotors cause pedal pulsation and can increase your stopping distance. Overtightening can also break wheel studs. The stud itself doesn’t cost much ($3), but the labor to press out the old stud and insert the new one can run $50 to $75. Spin the lug nuts on by hand. Never coat the stud with grease, oil or anti-seize. Lower the jack only enough to bring the tire into contact with the road. Tighten each nut to…

8 clever tool hacks

Here’s a great collection of tool hacks for every level of DIYer, from beginner to advanced. These simple tips and techniques will help you get the most out of your tools. You’ll learn creative ways to use everyday tools and even how to modify them to do jobs “outside the box.” Got a tip of your own to share? Send it to OUR ANNUAL TOOL ISSUE! 1. HANG YOUR ROOFING TOOLS Use spring clamps to keep your hoses, extension cords, and other tools and materials from sliding off the roof. Don’t try this on brittle or scorching hot shingles or you may damage them. You can create a handier hook by sticking the clamp in a vise and bending up one of the handles. 2. CLAMP WITH A TIE-DOWN STRAP If you need to…