Projects that include items for the home, backyard or other general carpentry projects.
Projects that include items for the home, backyard or other general carpentry projects.
Change your own engine air filter
Many people are intimidated about doing their own car repairs. Most of the fear stems from lack of understanding about how their car operates and what it really takes to make the repair. For complex repairs, you may lack the knowledge, skill or tools to make the repair on your own. However, some simple auto maintenance, such as changing your own air filter, is well within reach of nearly any car owner.
First, how do you know you need a new air filter? Typically, you’ll find out when something goes, wrong when it’s listed in your car’s maintenance schedule or when the friendly oil change folks try to sell you an overpriced filter. You can usually check to see condition visually — a filter will look dirty even when fairly new, but if you look deep into the pleats, you’ll get a good sense if it is mostly surface grime or if the filter is full.
A clogged filter can rob your engine of horsepower and gas mileage, so you want to replace a clogged filter as soon as you can. Never operate the car without a filter installed. Most vehicles recommend replacing the filter ever 1-2 years or 12,000-20,000 miles.
- A new replacement air filter that fits your specific make and model
- socket set or wrench
- screwdriver (depending on your specific air filter housing)
How does it work?
- Start with your car parked and turned off. Prop open the hood and locate the air filter housing. This is typically a black plastic box located to the side or behind the engine.
- Consult your car’s manual or internet resources for specific instructions on opening the air filter housing. typically there are series of metal clips around the two halves of the housing and sometimes a bolt that must be removed to open the housing.
- Once the clips and bolts are removed, slide the housing cover off and remove the old filter. Inspect the filter for condition and if needed, replace.
- You should also clean the air filter housing while you’re in to make sure any debris isn’t sucked into the engine where it could cause damage.
- With the replacement filter installed, close the housing back up and replace the clips/bolts holding the housing together.
- Start your car and go for a test drive. If you hear loud roar or see a check engine light, stop and check that the housing is closed tightly together.
That’s all there is to it, you’ve now replaced your own car air filter and saved yourself money by doing it yourself.
Do-it-yourself Wake Up Light – A Dawn Simulator Light Alarm Clock
Do you often wake feeling tired? Does the sound of your alarm clock buzzing drive you crazy? What if there were a better way?
Some people believe that your body reacts better when you wake to light– with a natural dawn simulation — easing your body into the day the way the sun does naturally.
Here’s a fun project you can do in just a few minutes given the right supplies. You can make your own wake-up light with a few simple items you may already own. Of course you could always buy one of these:
But if you’d rather be handy and make your own dawn simulator, here’s what you’ll need:
- A lamp (like the one you already have on your nightstand)
- a natural light bulb (optional), such as Verilux Standard Daylight Full Spectrum Light Bulb
- a Plug-in lamp dimmer
- On/Off 7-Day Digital Timer
A digital wall timer is recommended, because most now offer programming customizable for 7 days– this lets you set different on/off patterns for weekdays vs. weekends, etc.
Once you’ve assembled your parts, you’re ready to get going on the path to simulating natural wake up patterns with your wake up light. If you’ve opted for a full spectrum bulb (one that is closer to the sun’s own light frequencies) install the bulb in your lamp).
Important note: If you plan to use a dimmer with this project, you may want to choose an incandecent bulb — newer CFL and LED bulbs are often not compatible with standard dimmer switches.
Next, if you are using a dimmer switch, plug your lamp into the dimmer switch. Then plug into the wall timer. If not using a dimmer switch, plug directly into the wall timer.
Then, plug in the wall timer to your outlet and program your on/off patterns using the provided instructions– each timer is different, but most allow for multiple on/off times per day and per week. Consider turning the light on before you plan to wake and leaving on for an hour or more to allow your body to adjust before you rise.
If you’ve installed a dimmer switch, test the brightness you’ve selected to ensure it is to your liking. Experiment with different settings until you find the level of light that helps you rise naturally without making you cringe.
There you have it, your very own wake up light – at a fraction of the cost of commercial dawn simulators.
Note, one advantage of the commercial models is the ability to integrate an alarm sound and to grow the light brighter over time — if you find difficulty getting brightness to your liking, consider a commercial model.
How to install new side-pull caliper brakes on a bike0
Here’s a simple project just about anyone can do in an hour or so. So you bike brakes won’t stop? Do the brake pads look worn down and uneven? Are the brackets themselves bent out of place? Rusted through?
You can easily replace side-pull caliper brakes yourself and make your bike safe to ride again. Note: properly functioning brakes are important to safe operation of a bicycle. Never operate a bicycle without properly functioning brakes. If you feel uncomfortable with your own ability to safely repair your own brakes, a neighborhood bike shop can do the repair for you.
If you’re interested in making the repair yourself, read on.
- Depending on what pieces have failed you’ll need new brake pads and possibly a new caliper mechanism
- This is also a good time to replace your brake cables, that may be fraying, rusting or no longer sliding easily.
- You can get kits like this one that include all the parts for one low price:
Make sure that you purchase the correct components to fit your bicycle. There are several styles of brakes including disc brakes , side-pull brakes, and V-brakes. Make sure you purchase the correct size for your type of bike.
Step 1: Remove the old brakes. Start by loosening the bolt that holds the brake cable to the caliper; once removed, you should be able to fully separate the caliper releasing the brake pads from around the bicycle wheel. Next, loosen the bolt that holds the caliper assembly to the frame of the bike and remove the caliper entirely.
Step 2: If you are only replacing brake pads, now is the time to swap your new pads onto the calipers and re-install.
Step 3: If you are are fully replacing your calipers, install the new calipers paying close attention to the fit of the brake pads. You will likely need to adjust the placement of the brake pads to match your bicycle wheel. It’s also a good idea to clean your bike wheel to remove any dirt or grease that might cause problems for proper braking.
Step 4: Once the caliper is reattached, tighten the bolt and thread the brake cable through its place on the caliper. If the cable shows any signs of fraying, it should be replaced.
Step 5: Adjust properly. To properly adjust the brake cable tension, start with the brake lever fully released and the thumb screw adjustment at its lowest setting. Gently hold the brakes close to the wheel and tighten the screw holding the cable to the caliper.
Step 6: Test the brake operations by squeezing the brake lever. The brake should squeeze firmly, but release to allow free movement when the brakes are not applied. Use the thumb screw adjustment to find the right adjustment. Take time to adjust until the brakes operated properly. If you are unsure, consult a bike shop before operating your bicycle.
Step 7: Repeat the same steps to replace your second brake caliper.
Once you’re satisfied that the repair has been made properly, enjoy your handiwork with a relaxing safe ride.
How to make a Workbench with the Kreg Jig!0
IF you want a nice workbench, you can make one yourself with just a few boards and some basic tools, inlcuding the Kreg Pocket Hole Jig System. Kreg has put together a great video series and here is episode one of how to make a workbench with the kreg jig. It’s a simple plan you can do in an afternoon or adapt to your own project. The video will give you ideas on how to use your kreg jig to build other tables and furniture.
How to Grow Tomatoes from Seed0
Are you interested in how to grow tomatoes? Want to start from seeds and grow tomatoes? You can! With a little patience you can grow your very own tomato plants from seeds and be enjoying your very own tomatoes very soon!
What you need:
- Potting soil
- A small pot
- Tomato seeds- pick any variety you like! there are MANY kinds
How to sprout tomatoes from seeds:
- Fill a small pot with potting soil
- Moisten the soil with water
- Add your seeds about 1/2 inch into the soil. Add a few per pot, in case some don’t sprout.
- Place in a sunny window or on porch, in garden, etc. Seed sprout best around 70 degrees.
- Keep the soil moist. in the hot summer this may take watering several times per day. Your mileage may vary.
- In a few days. you will see the seeds start to sprout. You may continue to water and wait for them to grow larger or transplant them now into your garden.
- As the plants grow, be sure to add a tomato cage to help support the weight of your very own tomatoes!
- Pick, wash, enjoy!
How to Rewire a Lamp0
Do you have an old lamp sitting around the attic or basement that could be cleaned up and used? Is the problem that the electrics looks crazy old and need replacement? If you have an old lamp you want to rewire, you can easily rewire your lamp at home. Do it yourself and save money while saving the old lamp from the dump!
What you need:
- A new Standard Lamp Socket
(assuming the old one is shot/not safe to use)
Or consider an upgrade with a Dimmer Socket
- A length of suitable electrical cord – consult your hardware store for proper gauge for your application – for most standard lamps (think 60W or less) and short lengths, most any UL approved cord will do – for longer runs or higher wattage lamps, you will need a heavier gauge cord to prevent overheating
- 2-wire electric plug to attach cord to wall outlet
How to rewire a lamp:
- Be safe; know what you’re doing. Always consult a professional electrician for any questions. Always unplug any electric appliance before servicing.
- After unplugging the lamp, remove any shade and bulb
- Remove the socket and old wiring. You may need to cut the old wiring to remove. Discard the old parts
- Take your length of new cord and attach the plug. Typically this will involve either stripping the wire and attaching it with screw mounts OR inserting the cord and crimping the cord in some fashion. Consult the directions that came with your new plug for complete instructions
- Feed the free end of your new cord up through the base of your lamp and our through where the old socket attached.
- Separate the two ends and remove a small length of the insulation from each of the two wires. Twist the wire inside tightly.
- Now, take your new socket attach one wire to each of the two terminals of the lamp socket. Usually this is done with screw-down connections. Be sure that the wires attach firmly and are not loose or frayed out. Consult the instructions that came with your new socket for complete directions. You should tie a knot in the cord to keep any tugs from a pulled cord from detaching the connections
- Attach the socket to the lamp, usually screws on to base.
- Final inspection. Ensure all connections are properly attached and insulated, no gashes have been made to cord in the process and all is tightly attached.
- Put a bulb in and try out your new re-wired lamp!
- Consider purchasing new lamp shades to give new life to an old lamp
How to Pick a Circular Saw0
Are you looking to purchase a circular saw? Decided that the old handsaw just isnt enough to help build your deck? Here’s how to pick a good circular saw that will do what you need and last a long time. Considerations include:
- Power — you want enough power for the saw to move easily through even the toughest lumber to avoid dulling and heating the blade
- Price — you want a tool that will last but you dont want to spend more than you paid for your car
- Sidewinder or worm-drive — there are differences in torque, but I would recommend picking whichever you prefer the balance on
- Cordless? — Limited run times and lower toque hinder the cordless models, but if you need to use a circ saw away from power, or infrequently for small jobs, these units can be lightweight and portable alternatives to corded models
- Adjustment — look for a model with intuitive adjustment controls that allow you easily change settings
- Know how to use and care for your tool. Be sure to read and follow all of the manufacturer’s instructions. To safely use a circular saw and keep it in top condition for years of reliable use, you need to follow the guidelines.
Plunge versus Fixed Base Router0
A tool that you may want to consider as you start to be come a true woodworker is a router. A router can help you add that professional edge to wood to make your boring woodworking projects suddenly look professional. The key to picking a router that will do what you want and satisfy your needs can be tough, but here are a few things to consider:
- Horse Power. The more powerful the better. You don’t want your router to strain under the load. For a standard use unit, look for 2 HP or more.
- Plunge vs. Fixed Base. While a plunge router allows you to ‘plunge’ as the name implies into the middle of boards and grind out material, a fixed base router is made to follow edges. Consider how you wish you use your router and the projects you may take on.
- A good compromise. Some routers like the Skil 1825-RT 2-1/4-Horsepower 2-Inch Router Combo Kit combine both a fixed base and a plunge base, making a versitile alternative for beginners and skille craftsmen alike.
Don’t forget you’ll also need a good router bit set.
Projects you can now accomplish with your new router include:
- Cutting out sink holes in counters
- Rounding edges on tables and cabinets, drawer fronts, etc.
- And much, MUCH more.
DIY Book Review: American Boys Handy Book0
Do you own a copy of The American Boy’s Handy Book? If not, I’d recommend putting it on your wish list.
Here’s a classic DIY guide geared towards projects children (with adult supervision) to teens and adults can all enjoy. If you’ve never heard of the American Boy’s Handy Book, you should definately check it out. The book includes a wide range of DIY projects, most of which are far more sophisticated DIY projects than you’d find in a Cub Scout guidebook. The projects in the book range from the fantasy (Mark Twain raft) to the questionable (DIY fireworks, various projectile devices, etc.) to the totally awesome (DIY boat building, wind skates, and so much more!).
A must for the ‘do it yourself’ person in your life.
DIY Tool Review: Kreg Jig Jr. Pocket Hole Jig0
Today we’re looking at another tool I’ve recently purcahsed for DIY projects around the house, the Kreg Jig Jr. — the slightly smaller and less expensive cousin to the full Kreg Jig Master System. I saw the ads on TV and had to try it for myself.
Both systems are made by Kreg and offer the ability to drill precision pocket holes to join boards. Pocket hole joints make rigid connections between perpendicular boards, well suited to tables, drawers and other framing applications. The Master System more easily mounts for repeated use and can be adjusted to accommodate larger board thicknesses.
The Pros: Works just like they say! Simple to use. All measurements are done for you! And everything you need (except a power drill) is included, so you can quickly adjust the jig and make your drills. Works very well with only minimal time looking through the users guide.
The Cons: The Kreg Jig Jr. is small and can sometimes be difficult to clamp in place or annoying to unclaim and reclamp between uses — where the master system version would clearly have the advantage.
The Review: 4.8/5.0 Works exactly as they say in the ads. It makes it simple to get professional looking joints that hold together tightly. I was able to quickly repair an Ikea dresser drawer that had started to come apart with just a couple simple holes and screws, set precisely to the right angle and depths by the Kreg Jig. Get the professionally finished appearance most do-it-yourself folk strive to achieve–without much real work!
Can’t wait to use this for another project! Any suggestions? Have you used the Kreg Jig? What did you think?