How to Identify Hardwoods and Softwoods

Cost: Varies

1. The terms hardwood and softwood do not refer to density but rather to the type of tree- hardwoods come from deciduous trees and softwoods from conifers.
2. Softwoods grow fast and straight so they are a good option for framing material like fir and spruce. The less knots, the stronger the wood. These woods are typically dried in a kiln to prevent warping and shrinkage.
3. Some softwoods like pine are inexpensive and can be used for interior trim, but they can warp and twist.
4. A hardwood like maple is used for cabinets whereas oak is a good choice for flooring. Both of these are more common hardwoods.
5. Fine hardwoods are denser and include species like walnut and mahogany. They’re used for balusters and decking and are more expensive than common hardwoods.
6. Exotic hardwoods like purple heart and zebra wood are the most expensive and usually used for accents on fine furniture.

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How to Install a Natural Stone Patio with Fire Pit

Time: 1-2 days

Cost: $5,000 and up

Skill Level: Professional

Tools List for Installing a Natural Stone Patio with Fire Pit:
Gas Plate CompactorFeathers
Push Broom

Shopping List:
Stone dust
¾” stone
Thermal Bluestone
Reclaimed Granite

1. Before digging, always call a utility locating service to locate underground pipes and wires.
2. Excavate the area for the patio down to subsoil by hand or using an excavator.
3. Rake out the subsoil to a smooth grade and then compact it with a gas plate compactor.
4. Fill the area with a base material that’s a mixture of ¾” stone and stone dust about 3” at a time. Rake out the mixture smooth and then compact it with the gas plate compactor. Repeat until the base material is about 3” below finished grade.
5. To cut the granite to length, drill a series of 3-4” deep holes on 3 sides of the stone. Insert feathers and wedges into every hole and then tap each one a little at a time with a mallet until the stone breaks.
6. Use the excavator to move the four granite stones for the fire pit into position.
7. Fill the center of the firepit about a third of the way with ¾” stone.
8. Apply a layer of stone dust over the base material and compact it with the plate compactor.
9. Lay the bluestone in place. To properly level the natural stone, use a mallet to hit down the high spots. If there are low spots or voids under the stone, add more stone dust to fill those areas.
10. Once all the stones are installed and level, sweep stone dust into the joints. If the stones are dry, polymeric sand can also be used.

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How to Build a Home Message Center

Time: 3-4 hours

Cost: $100

Skill Level: Moderate

Tools List:
Miter Saw
Headless Nail Gun
Router with a Roundover Bit
Track Saw

Shopping List:
1×3 Poplar
1×4 Poplar
1×6 Poplar
Colonial Casing
Crown Molding
3” screws
Wood Glue
Headless Nails

1. Cut 1×3 poplar to desired length and build a three-sided frame. Use a butt joint, predrilling the hole first, and then fastening with a 3” screw.
2. Cut Colonial Casing to length, mitering the top corners of each piece at 45 degrees.
3. Glue and nail the casing to the frame, leaving a ¼” reveal around the inside.
4. Glue and nail the miters together on the casing.
5. Cut 1×4 poplar to desired length and build another three-sided frame with butt joints and 3” screws. This frame will be taller than the inner frame as it will be the mounting point for the crown molding.
6. Glue and nail the outside of the casing to the outer frame.
7. Glue and nail a piece of 1×4 as a flat stock above the top piece of casing. Use a filler block to ensure it doesn’t warp.
8. Mark and cut the miters for the crown molding.
9. Glue and nail the crown molding to the message center assembly.
10. Cut a piece of 1×6 poplar to length to serve as a stool.
11. Use a router with a roundover bit to roundover the edges of the stool piece.
12. Predrill and then screw through the bottom of the stool to attach it to the rest of the message center.
13. Build an apron using 1×4 poplar and toe screw it into the bottom of the stool.
14. Using a track saw or circular saw with a straight edge, cut the chalkboard plywood to size and nail to the back of the inner frame.
15. Cut a piece of ½” MDF to size to serve as a back cover and secure it with screws.
16. Sand all the wood and prime the message center.
17. Fill any visible nail holes.
18. Apply two top coats of paint.

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How to Install Cable Lighting

Time: 3-4 hours

Cost: $400

Skill Level: Moderate

Tools List:
Drill Driver
Lineman’s Pliers
Wire Strippers

Shopping List:
Cable Lighting Kit
Cable Lighting Heads
Toggle Bolts
Wire Nuts

1. Before doing any electrical work, ensure that power is turned off at the circuit breaker.
2. Remove the existing light fixture by disconnecting the wiring connections and removing any supporting hardware.
3. Install the ceiling bracket provided with the cable light transformer to the existing electrical box.
4. Connect the ground wire from the electrical box to the ceiling bracket.
5. If needed, splice wire extensions to the existing conductors using wire nuts.
6. Feed the wire extensions down the center threaded rod of the ceiling bracket and through the center hole of the transformer.
7. Use the supplied nut to hold the transformer to the threaded rod.
8. Splice the wire extensions to the transformer wires using wire nuts.
9. Attach the transformer canopy using provided screws.
10. Measure and mark the locations for each standoff. Drill a pilot hole to confirm if there’s structure above. If there isn’t drill a hole large enough for a toggle bolt.
11. Run the cable through each standoff.
12. Add light heads in desired locations by tightening the thumb screws onto each low voltage wire.
13. Attach wires from transformer to the low voltage cable.
14. Restore power at the circuit breaker.

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Build It | Simple Bookshelf from Stair Treads

Tom Silva and host Kevin O’Connor use stair treads to create a simple bookshelf in Build It.

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How to Build Steps With Landscape Timbers

Shopping List for How to Build Steps With Landscape Timbers:
– 2×2 stake
– 6×6 pressure-treated timbers
– gravel
– ½-inch-diameter (No. 4) metal reinforcing bar, used to pin sleepers to the ground
– 12-inch-long timber screws
– wood preservative

Tools for How to Build Steps With Landscape Timbers:
– shovel
– 4-foot level and long straightedge
– layout square
– circular saw
– handsaw
– drill/driver
– 3-pound sledgehammer
– 3-inch paintbrush

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How to Plant Flower Bulbs

Watch this video and learn how to plant flower bulbs…

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How to Plant a Flower Bed in Clay Soil

Shopping List for How to Plant a Flower Bed in Clay Soil:
– assorted potted plants
– expanded shale and compost
– river rocks
– hardwood mulch

Tools for How to Plant a Flower Bed in Clay Soil:
– garden fork and rotary tiller
– garden rake
– hose
– garden trowel
– soil separator

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How To Choose and Use a Jig Saw

1. Choose which type of grip suits you best. There is the barrel-handle jigsaw or the top-handle jigsaw. This is largely a comfort choice, so try out both.
2. This saw is great for curved cuts, circle cuts and scribed cuts on walls.
3. The orbital setting is important when choosing a jigsaw. Jigsaws cut in an upstroke and the orbital setting controls how much the blade moves back and forth. At zero, the blade moves straight up and down like a sewing needle.
4. For fine cuts, keep the orbital setting low. A higher setting is more powerful, but less precise.
5. Also, check the speed setting. The speed of the blade of the blade can impact the power of the blade. The thicker the wood, the more speed you may want. Use slower speeds to cut metals and plastic.
6. Look at the bevel setting. Lay the bevel flat for a zero-angle cut. Move the bevel for a more angled cut like a 45-degree.
7. Choose a blade depending on what type of cut you want to make. If you want to cut something fine, like a veneer, use a blade with the teeth facing down, so the blade cuts down and not up.
8. For a more aggressive cut, use a blade with the teeth facing upward, so the blade cuts on the upswing.
9. There are blades with teeth both up and down for a moderate cut.
10. Be sure to look at how the blade connects to the saw. Some jigsaws accept “T” type shank while others accept a straight shank, so choose the one that matches your saw.
11. When making a cut, make sure the shoe is level on the cutting surface. If it isn’t, it’s possible the blade could jump.
12. Keep a firm grip on the saw to prevent the blade from jumping.
13. Let the saw do the work. Do not push or pull the saw. This could drastically affect the cut.

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How to Clear a Clogged Bathtub Drain

Tools For Clearing a Clogged Bathtub Drain:
– screwdriver
– pliers
– drain snake, used to clear the clog
– adjustable wrench

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