DIY Frequently Asked Questions

Hand Tools Terms (241)

Level Head Garden Rake

  • Has a level head set close to the handle.
  • Used to break up and smooth soil after it has been spaded and cultivated.
  • Has sharp, curved steel teeth to pulverize dirt clods.
  • The straight back is good for leveling the soil for planting.

Linemen’s Pliers

• Also called electrician’s pliers. Used by professionals engaged in electrical, communications and construction work.

• Used for cutting, holding, shaping and twisting wire.

• Heavy-duty, side-cutting pliers designed for all regular wire-cutting needs.

• Have gripping jaws in addition to cutting edges.

• High-leverage lineman’s pliers have rivet placed closer to the cutting edges to provide more leverage.

• Two head patterns are available: standard (bevel nose) and round nose, which is more streamlined.

• Sizes range from 6-1/4” to 9-1/4”.

 

Ratcheting Screwdriver

  • Features a reversible ratchet mechanism in the handle that eliminates the need to grip and re-grip during the driving process.
  • Usually comes with interchangeable tips.

 

Ratchet (Socket) Wrench

  • Available in a variety of handle shapes and lengths and used with sockets to make turning nuts and bolts easier than with a conventional wrench.
  • Available in 1/4″, 3/8″ and 1/2″ drive sizes and are used with socket wrenches.
  • Available with a round or teardrop-shaped head and contains a reversing mechanism to facilitate tightening or loosening a fastener.
  • Popular accessories include flex handles, speeder handles, T-handles, extensions of various lengths and universal joints to work on fasteners in hard-to-reach locations.

 

Drywall Hammer

  • Drywall HammerUsed to score, sheet and set nails for drywall work.
  • Features a scored head and a notched blade instead of a claw.
  • Notch in the blade is used to remove exposed nails.

 

Retractable-Blade Utility Knife

  • General-use tool designed to cut materials such as drywall, cardboard cartons, laminates and plastic.
  • Blade retracts into body of knife for safer operation and storage.
  • Some models have up to 3 different blade positions for different cutting depths.
  • Higher-end models have rubber grips and ergonomic designs for better gripping.
  • Handle generally unscrews or swivels open to permit blade changes.
  • Many models have extra blade storage in handle.
  • Some models have spring-loaded blades that automatically retract when the knife is released.

Rabbet Plane

  • Also called a rebate plane.
  • Lightweight tool (generally 4” long) used by cabinetmakers and do-it-yourselfers to cut rectangular recesses (called rabbets or rebates) out of the edges of boards and to make grooves in flat surfaces.
  • Has an adjustable mouth for either fine or course work.
  • Cutter is positioned at front of plane to enable tool to fit closely into corners

 

Calipers

  • Tool consisting of two curved pieces of metal that are joined at one end with a pivot that has a screw to adjust the distance between the two pieces.
  • Used for transferring measurements from a model or prototype to a part being produced.
  • Can also be used to measure the inside or outside of holes or objects that cannot be reached easily with a graduated measuring device.
  • Common models include inside and outside calipers.

Double-Bit Axe

  • Performs the same function as single-bit axe, but has two cutting edges—one on each end of the head.
  • Generally used by professional lumbermen.
  • Double-bit axes have straight handles because the handle must be symmetrical with the double-edge head.
  • Common head patterns include Western, Michigan, Swamping and Reversible.

Retractable Saw

  • Comes in a variety of designs and is engineered for the blades to either retract or fold back into a plastic or wooden handle.
  • Also called a folding saw.
  • Some models have combination features, such as utility knives, on end opposite saw blade.
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Hardware & Fasteners Terms (109)

Door Plates

  • Kick plates protect the bottom of the door from scuffing.
  • Push plates provide a non-marring surface where the user can push the door open.
  • Pull plates provide a handle to open doors.
  • Adds a decorative touch to doors.
  • Available in a variety of materials, including brass, stainless steel and anodized aluminum.

Touch Catch

  • Helps the cabinet door stay shut.
  • Also called a push catch.
  • Mounts inside the cabinet and needs no knobs or pulls.
  • User operates by simply pushing on the door, the catch releases and the door springs open.

Picture Hanger

  • Nail Hangers consist of a piece of metal with a hook on the lower end of a twist and loop that forms a nail hole. Depending on the size, this type will hold from 10 lbs. to 100 lbs.
  • Adhesive Hanger is a piece of flat metal with cuts or serrations along either edge that attaches to the back of a picture frame. The strip will stick to any clean, flat surface like glass, wood or metal. For light-duty use only.
  • Adjustable Hanger is a piece of flat metal with cuts or “serrations” along either edge that attaches to the back of a picture frame. Serrations allow for adjustment. For light-duty use only.
  • Utility Hanger is a hook that has an eye drilled into the flat upper piece for nailing or screwing to the wall. For light to medium use.
  • Hook Anchor is made of polypropylene and can be used in hollow or solid walls. For light to medium use. It will hold mirrors and pictures.
  • Hardwall Hanger is a plastic hook with case-hardened pins that can drive into brick or concrete walls to hold light- to medium-weight mirrors and pictures.
  • Flush Mount Hanger has two pieces of formed metal. One piece mounts to the picture and the other to the wall. These pieces interlock to create a high-load system.

Plumber’s Chain

  • A weldless, stamped, flat link chain.
  • Used to attach plumbing fixtures and for general utility purposes.

Screw Eye/Hook

  • A screw eye consists of screw thread at one end and a ring at the other.
  • A screw hook consists of screw thread at one end and a hook at the other.
  • Used to hang tools or utensils or for holding them together.

 

Drop-In Anchor

  • Expandable concrete anchors set in pre-drilled holes.
  • Accepts standard coarse thread bolts or threaded rod.
  • Drop-in style anchors do not require patching after sinking.
  • Comes in sizes to fit 1/4” to 3/4”.

Masonry Nail

  • Made of hardened and tempered steel.
  • Shank comes round, flat, fluted or square.
  • Often used to fasten framing parts such as sills, furring strips,window and door trim to masonry and concrete.

Threshold

  • A strip fastened to the floor beneath a door.
  • It usually covers the joint where two types of floor material meet.
  • Can be made of metal, aluminum or wood.
  • It may have a rubber strip in the center to aid in weatherproofing.
  • An astragal is a molding or strip that covers or closes the gap between the edges of a pair of doors. Some types overlap while others meet at the centerline of the gap.

Drawer Slide

  • The monorail type uses a single track under the center of the drawer with drawer rollers on the left and right side. It is easy to install because it requires minimum measuring and templates. It is low in cost and fits both new and old installations.
  • The side-mounting type uses four tracks, one attached to each side or bottom of the drawer and one on both the left and right sides of the cabinet. It has rollers on which the drawer rides.
  • Some types of slides are self-closing. They close when the drawer comes to within 4” to 5” of the back, regardless of the load or its position in the drawer.
  • Quality slides permit little side movement, prevent accidental drawer pullout, have high-quality rollers and are precision-made to close tolerances.

Cable Tie

  • One-piece bands with self-locking catches or heads on one end.
  • Available in different widths and lengths to accommodate various bundle diameter sizes.
  • Used on anything that needs to be tied up, tied down or held in place.
  • Natural, colored and fluorescent ties are used indoors while UV (sunlight resistant) black ties are used outdoors.
  • Mounting bases can be used with standard cable ties to fix wire bundles to support structures or other surfaces. Bases are adhesive-backed for quick anchoring and contain molded knockout screw holes for extra power.
  • Use cable tie tools to make the use of cable ties easier.
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Paint & Decorating Terms (82)

Aluminum Paint

  • Is a paint with aluminum blended with a resin base.
  • For interior and exterior use on heated surfaces, such as ovens, barbecue grills, mufflers and other surfaces that are exposed to high heat.
  • It works equally well on almost any surface and may be brushed or sprayed. Colors become more intense with age.
  • Aluminum paint can be used on all interior and exterior metal or wood surfaces, or applied to metal flashing, gutters, downspouts, tools, tool sheds, patio furniture, pipes, mailboxes, fences, etc.
  • Do not apply aluminum paint during freezing temperatures; paint should dry at least overnight before recoating.

 

Paint Pad

  • Lies flat on the surface, allowing the user to avoid spattering.
  • Most pads are made of mohair or foam and can apply either latex or oil-based paints.
  • Some models have guide wheels or trim tabs that guarantee a straight line at the point of intersection.
  • Paint pads are also an excellent way to apply waterproof coating to a deck or fence. Attached to a long handle, they eliminate bending and stooping and can be washed and re-used.

Spackling Compound

  • Is used for patching cracked plaster, filling nail holes, repairing wallboard and smoothing surface imperfections on unprimed wood.
  • Lightweight vinyl spackling is the easiest to use—it resists shrinking, cracking and sagging and requires little sanding.
  • One type of spackling changes color when optimum drying time is achieved. It goes on pink and turns white when dry to signal time for sanding and painting.
  • While some are formulated specifically for either interior or exterior applications, many can be used in either situation.
  • Available in 8 oz., pint, quart and gallon buckets as well as 6 oz. tubes.

Ladder Jacks

  • Convert a pair of extension ladders into a working platform.
  • Ladder jacks can accommodate 12”, 14” and 20” wide planks, depending on the model, and can be attached to either 2 or 3 rungs.
  • Clamp secures platform to ladder jacks and ties supporting ladders together to help secure entire ladder jack system.
  • Can be mounted to either side of an extension ladder.

Paint Shield

  • Also known as a trim guard.
  • Used to mask off areas not to be painted.
  • Used primarily in corners where wall meets ceiling or where twowalls meet that are not painted the same color.

Paint Conditioner

  • Can be added to either oil-based or latex paints for a variety of reasons—to keep edges wet longer, to prevent lapping, to allow the paint to cover better or to lessen drag on the paint applicator.
  • Conditioners also lessen paint clogging in spraying systems.
  • Some additives are designed to give latex some of the better qualities of oil-based paints.

 

Corner Pad

  • A corner pad is a paint pad shaped in a 90 degree angle to allow for easy painting of corners.

Patching Plaster

  • Is a fast-setting powder ready to use by adding water.
  • It dries hard to uniform, white color.
  • It repairs and covers large holes and deep cracks in plaster walls and ceilings.
  • Patching plaster may be drilled, sanded and painted and can be textured to match existing surface.

Natural Sea Sponge

  • Used with sponging technique to apply paint and glaze to the surface to give a mottled look.
  • Process begins with application of a coat of paint in a solid color. Once this coat is dry, the damp sponge is then used to add glaze in another color.
  • One line of sponges comes with a plastic handle that can be removed as well as a smaller trim sponge for corners.
  • Can also be used with a negative method, which involves applying a base coat, then a glaze coat. A sponge is then used to remove some of the glaze before it has a chance to dry, partially exposing the color of the base coat.

Paint Mixer

  • Propeller device used to mix paint.
  • Attaches to drills with either a ½” or 3/8” shaft, depending on model.
  • Also great for mixing sealers and other coatings.
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Paint & Decorating FAQ's (80)

What should I look for in a quality paint brush?

Look for the tips of the bristles to be a different color than the rest of the bristles. This shows that the tips have been machined to be flagged, which will apply the paint easier. The ferrule should be copper or stainless steel so it won’t rust. The handles should also be made of hardwood and should be unfinished for a better grip.

Can putty knives be used as a scraper for drywall?

While putty knives with stiff blades can be used to scrape loose materials, a paint scraper is a better tool for the job. It has a sharp blade designed specifically for removing old paint and other materials.

What type of paint should I use in my kitchen?

High-gloss paints are great for high-traffic areas because they provide a tough, washable finish that also resists water and grease. Use them on kitchen and bathroom walls, kitchen cabinets, banisters and railings, trim, furniture, doorjambs and windowsills. However, the gloss will make surface imperfections more noticeable, so you will have to work a little harder to ensure a good finish. A semi-gloss provides a little less durability but is a little easier to work with.

What tools do I need to remove old wallpaper?

A wallpaper remover, a 3” wallpaper stripping tool, a bucket and a sponge. You can also buy a tool that will score the paper before you apply the remover.

Do I need to stain or paint my cedar fence?

Cedar is naturally resistant to decay and when it weathers, it will turn a soft silver gray and even black in some areas. To protect its color and protect from mildew, use a penetrating stain. You can use a transparent stain, a semi-transparent stain or an opaque stain.

Should I use a brush with synthetic or natural bristles?

As a general rule, you should use a synthetic bristle brush with latex paint and a natural bristle brush with oil-base paints. However, many synthetic bristle brushes can also be used with oil base paints.

What is the difference between a solvent and a thinner?

A thinner is generally used to thin a liquid finish while a solvent is used to dissolve an existing finish that has been cured.

Is there a good time to paint outside?

Always check the paint can for specific recommendations. But for general guidelines, you want the paint to dry evenly, so try to paint in the shade and when the temperature is between 60 degrees and below 90 degrees. Also, avoid windy days because they might make the paint dry too quickly or blow debris onto your wet paint.

I’m going to be painting a table that has a gloss finish. Do I need to prepare the surface?

You should use a liquid deglosser, which works without sanding and also produces a slight tack for better adhesion of the new finish.

Do I need to apply a waterproofer on top of the stain?

No, that won’t give the fence extra protection. The waterproofer must penetrate the wood to work and it can’t do that if there is already a coating on the wood.

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Power Tools Terms (84)

Hammer Drill

  • Used to drill quickly through concrete, stone, block and brick.
  • While the drill turns, the drill vibrates the chuck back and forth or side-to-side to help the bit chip the material while it is drilling.
  • Many models have a mode selector, allowing the operator to choose rotation only, like a conventional drill, and hammer drill, which combines the drill and hammer action. Better models might offer a hammer only option for chisel and scraper attachments.
  • Do not confuse with a rotary hammer, which can accommodate core bits up to 6” in diameter. These tools have unique bit drive and retention methods rather than the conventional geared chuck.
  • Manufacturers will measure speed by rpm (revolutions per minute), and the hammer action by bpm (blows per minute).

 

Power Planer

  • Smooths and reduces the surface of wood to achieve a flat surface.
  • Operates with a pair of replaceable knives that can adjust to various depths.
  • Features include an edge fence for edge trimming.
  • Another feature on most models is a safety foot that prevents damaging a surface if the user sets down the tool before the cutter has stopped spinning. A safety foot drops down to raise the plate and keep the blade from cutting into the surface.

Edge Cutting Guide

  • Attaches to a jigsaw.
  • Used as a guide to making straight cuts.
  • Some models come with a pivot knob that guides the saw in a circular cut.

Chipper

  • Can use gasoline or electric power.
  • Chips and sheds branches up to 3” in diameter into small pieces that can be used as organic mulch.
  • Uses a bag to collect chipped materials.
  • Most types allow the user to rake leaves directly into the machine or feed branches into the top. Some models offer both a drop-in hopper and a dedicated chipper chute.

Chuck Key

  • A small T- or L-shaped tool used to tighten and loosen the chuck on electric drills and drill presses.
  • Available in various sizes, as well as universal models.

Angle Drill

  • Has an angled head designed for tight fits and close-quarter drilling.
  • Available in 3/8” or 1/2” sizes.
  • Some models feature an angle attachment that rotates the drill into any position, while a side handle allows one-hand operation and easy control.

 

Vacuums

  • For picking up dirt, sawdust, metal shavings and other materials an ordinary vacuum cannot.
  • Wet/dry vacuums are designed for use anywhere and can suck up water as well as dirt.
  • Sizes range from 1 gal. to 50 gal., and motors can be 1 hp to 5 hp.
  • Many models incorporate a blower feature by attaching the hose to a separate blower port on the motor.
  • Newer designs include a backpack vacuum that is battery operated.

Miter Saw

  • Chop SawAlso known as a chopsaw.
  • Used for making repeated straight or miter cuts.
  • Uses a circular blade that is pivoted to the correct angle, then dropped onto the material, which is clamped stationary on a turntable.
  • The turntable has a large compass scale that is marked in degrees to show the degree of the cut.
  • The simplest miter saw available.

Seam Roller

  • Roller used to flatten seams between wallpaper strips.
  • Roller is generally 1-1/4” to 2” in width and has a smooth plastic roller surface.

Drill Bit Sharpener

  • Extends the life of drill bits and drills, since sharper bits put less strain on the drill.
  • Provides consistent sharpenings for a variety of drill bits, including standard, masonry, carbide, titanium nitride, cobalt and left-handed.
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Electrical & Lighting Terms (80)

Drill Press

  • Used for boring holes in precise, repetitive cuts. With the appropriate accessories, the drill press can also shape, carve, sand, grind, buff and polish.
  • Consists of a base and a column rising upward to a head holding the motor and drill. A radial arm holds a worktable that adjusts vertically. A feed handle enables the user to direct the drill chuck up and down.
  • On a radial drill press, the head rotates 360º around the column and can drill at an angle or horizontally.

TV Wire and Accessories

  • Television lead-in wire connects the receiving set to the antenna. Good quality 300-ohm wire is used for both VHF and UHF receivers.
  • A TV set coupler is a loss-producing device for connecting two or more TV receivers to the same antenna. The loss introduced into the circuit is small, but can be critical in “fringe area” reception. In such areas, you should be aware of this small loss and to expect a slight reduction in signal strength at the receiver.
  • A lightning arrestor mounts on the outside of the house as close to the TV receiver as possible to protect the receiver against lightning damage. The lead-in wire is attached to proper contacts and the ground rod to ground connector. Lightning will jump the gap inside the arrestor and flow into the earth if the circuit is properly installed.

Time Delay Fuse

  • Similar in appearance to a plug fuse.
  • Provides a minimum time delay for small household motors that cause an electrical surge when started. That surge would cause a regular fuse to blow needlessly.

Table Tap

  • Also known as a plug-in strip or plug-in outlet adapter.
  • Increases the number of outlets available at a single outlet.
  • One side plugs into an outlet and the other provides two to six pairs or outlets.
  • A smaller version is the cube tap, which is in the shape of a cube and provides two or three receptacles in the place of one.

Lamp Holder

  • Used to hold light sockets where design is not a concern. Often used in garages or basements, or as a temporary fixture.
  • One type has a pull chain to turn it on. The other, a keyless lampholder, does not have a chain. Another type has a socket, two receptacles and a pull chain that turns off the lamp but not the receptacles.
  • Typically is a round porcelain fixture with a socket with prewired leads ready for connecting to a circuit. It also has screw holes for mounting it to a box.
  • Another type is the Pigtail. It is merely a socket with wire leads and without a fixture. It is also used for temporary lighting or for testing.

Incandescent Fixture

  • Styles vary widely, but the basic purpose is to hold an incandescent light bulb. Fixtures can be mounted on a stand, on the wall or on the ceiling.
  • The basic wall or ceiling fixture mounts onto an electrical box. The most common type of box contains a threaded stud (or threaded rod) that attaches to the fixture with a part called a hickey. Or, instead of a threaded stud, the fixture may use a crossbar hanger.
  • Various styles of lights can be used for four basic purposes: task lighting (to illuminate specific areas for activities such as reading or preparing food), ambient lighting (for general illumination of a room), accent lighting (focused, directional light generally on artwork or architectural features), and utility lighting (used to flood an area with light, often outdoors or in work areas).

Home Networking

  • Home networks connect multiple computers in the home, satellite dishes, cable TV, sophisticated audio systems and home.
  • The heart of these systems is the networking hub. Usually thought of in conjunction with computers, the home network hub differs in that it provides central control of computers, peripherals, phones, TVs and audio components. This is the unit where most of the wiring from different locations comes together to meet.
  • Most home networks use coaxial, Category 3 and Category 5 cable. Coaxial cable is used for TVs, VCRs and satellite equipment. Category 3 cable is used for telephones while Category 5 is used for telephone, fax and computer systems. Some cables combine different functions into one cable.
  • “Structured” wiring refers to a bundle of cables that runs from the networking hub to meet a home’s future information-carrying needs. This wire bundle may consist of some combination of Category 5 cables, fiber-optic lines, Category 3 cables and coaxial lines.
  • Jacks are used to terminate the cable. There are different jacks for telephones, computers, satellite, audio and video equipment. Many of these jacks and cable connectors require special tools for installation.
  • Patch cords are used to connect different computer and audio/video devices with one another or with a central networking device such as a hub.
  • Binding posts are used to connect bare speaker wire, while F-Connectors are used with coaxial cable.

Circuit Breaker

  • Two styles are available: Push button (less common) and toggle.
  • Breakers can be single, double or thin.
  • Contains a bi-metal strip that breaks the circuit when a current exceeds a predetermined rating.
  • A breaker indicates a broken circuit when the switch is in the mid-point, or tripped, position.
  • Reset the circuit breaker after correcting the overload problem. Switch it to the off position, then to the on position.
  • Another type of circuit breaker is a screw-in type that looks similar to a fuse, but has a button on the top. The button pops out when the circuit is broken.

Multiple Tap

  • Like the table tap, it plugs into an existing outlet to increase the number of outlets at a location.
  • It typically has four to six plugs.
  • Some models may contain circuit breakers or surge protectors, but may not be suitable for computer equipment.

Voltage Tester

  • Also known as a test lamp, a circuit tester, a neon tester or a test light.
  • Consists of two insulated wire probes and a small neon light.
  • Designs vary widely.
  • Used to determine if there is electricity running through a circuit or if it is properly grounded.
  • Recommend as a basic tool for every toolbox.
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Building Materials FAQ's (273)

Besides a miter joint, is there another type of joint that I can use to make a wooden frame?

Yes. You can also use a butt joint with pocket screws or with biscuits.

Can I install my own replacement windows?

Installing replacement windows is a task that most do-it-yourselfers can handle.

Do I still need to paint or treat my treated wood?

No wood is so naturally resistant to the weather as to make it maintanance-free. You should use protective finishes like water repellents to avoid damage from water and sunlight. You can also stain and paint treated wood.

How can I square up my wooden screen door? It is rubbing on the sill.

A screen door turnbuckle, applied diagonally, will raise the sagging edge.

Is it dangerous to cut treated wood?

You can cut treated wood safely if you follow a few safety precautions. First, wear a mask to prevent inhaling the dust and use gloves to prevent splinters. Also wear eye protection to protect from particles flying into your eye. Then, dispose of the dust in the trash; do not burn scraps or sawdust. Always cut in a well-ventilated area. Thoroughly wash hands and face before eating or smoking to avoid accidental ingestion of the dust.

What’s the difference between hardwood and a softwood?

The biological answer is that hardwoods produce seeds with some sort of covering, such as a fruit or a nut. Softwoods produce seeds with no covering—they fall to the ground. Hardwoods tend to be more dense, but the hardness or density of the wood is not the means of classification. (Balsa wood, the lightest of all woods, is considered a hardwood). But in the lumberyard, structural lumber is softwood because it is easy to work with and the least expensive. Hardwood is more expensive and is used mainly as a finishing material.

What is the difference between regular and Type X wallboard?

To be a type X wallboard, the board must be made by adding noncombustible fibers with the gypsum. The fibers help the board to be more fire resistant during exposure to fire. To achieve a type X rating, the board must meet certain criteria for fire resistance.

What’s the difference between floor tile and wall tile?

Floor tile is 1/2” to 3/4” thick. Wall tile is thinner than floor tile and is not intended to be as heavy-duty as floor tile.

How do I cut the vinyl to fit around doorjambs or decorative trim?

Use a backsaw to trim off the bottom of the doorframe. Cut off just enough so that the tile will slide underneath.

How do I clean ceiling tile?

Do not soak acoustic tiles with water. Instead, use a damp sponge with a mild liquid detergent solution. Lightly wipe the surface of the panel. If the panel is badly stained, you should replace it.

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Hardware FAQ's (78)

How long will a bottle or tube of glue last?

If it has been bottled tightly and kept in a normal temperate environment, it should last up to one year.

I need a screw to anchor a knob onto a drawer, what do you recommend?

If you do not have the knob to identify the size, it’s probably a 8-32 screw. It may not be the right one, but it’s the best guess that may keep you from making another trip.

How can I anchor something to concrete?

A newer anchor has a drill bit built into the end of a screw so that it can be driven directly into the concrete.

What do the numbers—such as 8-32—mean on a machine screw?

The first number is the diameter. The bigger the number the bigger the screw. The second number is the number of threads per inch.

Is nylon rope worth its extra cost?

Twisted nylon rope is the most versatile because of its strength. Additionally it has good shock resistance, which means sudden jerks are less likely to damage the rope or cause failure. It’s resistance to abrasion makes it durable where rubbing is likely to occur. It is resistant to most chemicals and will not rot or mold when wet. When stretched it tends to return to its original length, making it good for lifting and towing. However, it should not be attached to winches, bits, hooks or chains.

Will super glue work on all types of plastic?

No. Certain plastics like polyethylene or polypropylene have a coating that can prevent the two surfaces from bonding properly. You need to use a glue with an activator as well as an adhesive. The activator will “prime” the surface and provide a better bonding surface.

My cabinets have handles that have holes that are 3-1/2” apart, but I am only finding new handles that fit holes 3” apart, what do you recommend?

Most pulls are generally on 3” mounting centers. You will need to drill new holes and look for pulls that are designed to cover the previous holes. There are also decorative plates that will cover the previous holes. Mount these plates under the new pulls.

Will a stick-on hook hold much weight?

They are really only designed for towels and other lightweight items.

Are there screws that will not rust?

Brass, aluminum and stainless steal screws should meet your needs.

When should I use a polyester rope?

Polyester twisted rope has strength similar to nylon, but at the expense of a poor shock load capacity. However, it has a good resistance to abrasion and sunshine. It’s a good choice for general-purpose boating applications.

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Home Security FAQ's (38)

Can locks be rekeyed so that more than one uses the same key?

Locksmiths can also re-key existing or new locks to the same key. However, they have to be the same brand and use the same key blank.

Will this casement window operator work on my window?

There are both left-opening and right-opening ones, and you need to make sure you get the correct one.

There is a wide range of prices of padlocks. What is the advantage of the more expensive ones?

They are heavier, more durable, and will provide greater security.

My smoke detector beeped last night, but there was no smoke. What is wrong with it?

This is a warning signal that the batteries are low. If your alarm is more than 10 years old, you should consider replacing it, just to make sure that you have one that is in good working order.

What type of padlock holds up best in the weather?

While brass padlocks will hold up better in the weather than standard ones, most people are happier with the plastic weatherproof casing. Obviously, the brass ones provide a decorative option.

How long should a smoke detector last?

We recommend that you replace any smoke detector that is more than 10 years old.

What features make a padlock stronger?

The high-security padlocks often have cases that provide a collar around most of the shackle. That makes it harder to get bolt cutters on them.

Where should I keep a fire extinguisher in my home?

Don’t mount it too close to where a fire is likely to occur. For example, don’t keep it next to the stove. A good place is at the top of the stairs or near a workshop. In most cases, it’s a good idea to have a fire extinguisher for every 600 square feet of living space.

I need to attach my grill to my deck to deter it from being stolen. What do you recommend?

Aircraft cable is a good alternative. You can swage both ends and use it with a padlock. It’s more attractive than a heavy chain, and it can be used on many things—such as outdoor furniture.

What is radon gas and how do I protect my family from it?

Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas that can collect in hazardous concentrations in areas like the basement. A radon detector in your basement will help keep your family safe.

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Storage & Workshop Terms (35)

Spring Clamp

  • Similar to a clothes pin, this clamp consists of two metal jaws to which clamping pressure is applied by use of a steel spring.
  • They are designed for use with thin materials.
  • Spring clamps are versatile enough for home, hobby or professional use indoors or outdoors, holding round or odd-shaped objects.
  • They typically come with 1″, 2″ or 3″ jaw openings.

Paste Wax

  • Protects and adds luster to any stained or finished wood surface.
  • Many formulations contain carnauba for enhanced durability.
  • Commonly used on hardwood floors and fine wood furniture and even marble surfaces.
  • Dries quickly and doesn’t cause surface to become slippery.

Web Clamp

  • Also called band clamps, they apply even clamping pressure around irregular shapes or large objects to hold tight by means of a spring-loaded locking fixture.
  • Commonly used on cylinder-shapes and to hold chair legs while gluing.

Linseed Oil

  • Pure preservative available in boiled and raw formulations.
  • Boiled linseed oil has driers added to promote faster drying than raw linseed oil.
  • Offers superior penetration into wood surfaces and provides good UV protection.
  • Also improves the flow and gloss of exterior oil-based paint.
  • A classic finish for natural wood to seal and protect it.

Hold-Down Clamp

  • Is the screw portion of a “C” clamp, designed to be secured onto any surface, with the screw used to apply clamping pressure.
  • Also available in locking models, similar to locking clamps.

Turpentine

  • Has greater solvency than mineral spirits, causing it to work more quickly.
  • It also has a stronger odor and contains a small amount of resin.

Edging Clamp

  • Three-way clamp resembling a C-Clamp with a third screw located in the middle of the throat.
  • Used to apply pressure at a right angle to the side of the work surface.
  • Commonly used for installing molding and trim on furniture and countertops.

Alcohol

  • Is available in denaturedwood isopropyl or methanol form.
  • Wood and methanol alcohols are extremely toxic and should not be recommended for do-it-yourselfers.
  • Denatured alcohol, a safer substance, is used for thinning and for cleaning shellac and pigmented shellac primer.
  • Alcohol is excellent for removing grease and oil spots, fingerprints and other smudges.

Welding Clamp

  • Also called Locking “C”-Clamp or welder’s pliers.
  • A unique type of clamp ideal for holding work while welding.
  • Typical jaw opening sizes range from 2-1/8″ to 8.”

Deglosser

  • Prepares surfaces before painting and assists paint and varnish in bonding to old finishes.
  • Available in water- or solvent-based formulations.
  • Concrete Cleaner is specifically designed to clean and degrease concrete and masonry surfaces and to prepare concrete basement floors to be painted.
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FAQs (0)

Besides a miter joint, is there another type of joint that I can use to make a wooden frame?

Yes. You can also use a butt joint with pocket screws or with biscuits.

Can I install my own replacement windows?

Installing replacement windows is a task that most do-it-yourselfers can handle.

Do I still need to paint or treat my treated wood?

No wood is so naturally resistant to the weather as to make it maintanance-free. You should use protective finishes like water repellents to avoid damage from water and sunlight. You can also stain and paint treated wood.

How can I square up my wooden screen door? It is rubbing on the sill.

A screen door turnbuckle, applied diagonally, will raise the sagging edge.

Is it dangerous to cut treated wood?

You can cut treated wood safely if you follow a few safety precautions. First, wear a mask to prevent inhaling the dust and use gloves to prevent splinters. Also wear eye protection to protect from particles flying into your eye. Then, dispose of the dust in the trash; do not burn scraps or sawdust. Always cut in a well-ventilated area. Thoroughly wash hands and face before eating or smoking to avoid accidental ingestion of the dust.

What’s the difference between hardwood and a softwood?

The biological answer is that hardwoods produce seeds with some sort of covering, such as a fruit or a nut. Softwoods produce seeds with no covering—they fall to the ground. Hardwoods tend to be more dense, but the hardness or density of the wood is not the means of classification. (Balsa wood, the lightest of all woods, is considered a hardwood). But in the lumberyard, structural lumber is softwood because it is easy to work with and the least expensive. Hardwood is more expensive and is used mainly as a finishing material.

What is the difference between regular and Type X wallboard?

To be a type X wallboard, the board must be made by adding noncombustible fibers with the gypsum. The fibers help the board to be more fire resistant during exposure to fire. To achieve a type X rating, the board must meet certain criteria for fire resistance.

What’s the difference between floor tile and wall tile?

Floor tile is 1/2” to 3/4” thick. Wall tile is thinner than floor tile and is not intended to be as heavy-duty as floor tile.

How do I cut the vinyl to fit around doorjambs or decorative trim?

Use a backsaw to trim off the bottom of the doorframe. Cut off just enough so that the tile will slide underneath.

How do I clean ceiling tile?

Do not soak acoustic tiles with water. Instead, use a damp sponge with a mild liquid detergent solution. Lightly wipe the surface of the panel. If the panel is badly stained, you should replace it.

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Hand & Power Tools FAQ's (185)

What type of drill bit should I use for cutting a large hole for a new door lock?

For larger holes use a hole saw. They range in size from about 1 inch to 4 inches. They have a pilot bit and a saw-toothed circular rim.

What is the difference between a band saw and a scroll saw?

The band saw blade makes a continuous loop and cuts by spinning in a circle. It can handle thick pieces of material, up to 6” thick. A scroll saw can only handle thinner pieces and uses a small blade that moves up and down.

Are there tree trimmers you can use from the ground?

Yes, pole tree trimmers typically extend 12’ to 20’. Shears with a pulley and rope can cut about a 1” diameter branch, and saws are used on branches up to about 6”. For these and larger branches you may want to consider a chain saw.

What tools do I need to spread mulch?

If you are using bags of mulch, simply pour them out and spread them with a rake. If you have had a pile of mulch delivered, you should use a pitchfork specifically designed for picking up mulch. Use it to put the mulch in a garden cart or wheelbarrow to move where you want to spread it.

What are the quality differences between drop forged and cast metal hand tools?

During construction, drop forging removes more air bubbles. This means there are fewer weak spots.

I need to drill a precise hole and can’t risk damaging the workpiece. What drill should I use?

The hand drill with a brad point bit is the tool to use when precision counts. Since a hand drill is turned manually, it can be stopped easily and precisely.

Is there any advantage of a metal leaf rake over a plastic leaf rake?

A metal rake usually has more spring and is better suited for large areas. It is easier to clean around flowerbeds, shrubs and bushes and does not rake up essential thatch in a lawn.

What type of drill bit should I use for cutting a large hole for a new door lock?

For larger holes use a hole saw. They range in size from about 1 inch to 4 inches. They have a pilot bit and a saw-toothed circular rim.

What type of blade should I use when I am cutting wood?

When cutting across the grain, a crosscut blade has a series of evenly spaced, medium-sized teeth that are bent alternately from the left to the right. When cutting along the wood grain, a rip blade also has teeth bent to the left and right, but its teeth are on the top of the blade, not on the inside. They are like chisels that scoop out the wood as the saw moves along the grain.

What type of utility knife should I buy for general household use?

You probably should get a model with a retractable blade, especially if there are children present in the home.

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Lawn & Garden FAQ's (154)

What tools make up a basic gardening set?

A basic gardening tool set would include a spading fork, a garden hoe, a watering can, a round-ended shovel, a bow-head garden rake and a pair of garden shears.

What’s the purpose of sealing an asphalt driveway?

Sealing the driveway protects the asphalt from sun, moisture and grease that can damage the asphalt underneath.

When do I apply a post-emergent herbicide?

This is used on weeds that are actively growing, and should be applied in mid spring. Another excellent time is in early fall.

I have bugs damaging my plants, what insecticide should I use?

It’s difficult to tell unless you can identify the bug. There are books we can look through and many insects are illustrated on the bottles of insecticide.

I am trying to decide which is better for me—a gas or electric chain saw.

Gas chain saws can be used anywhere and are more powerful. Plus, they come in larger bar sizes. Electric chain saws must stay within the limits of an extension cord.

I’m buying outdoor power tools. Are cordless electric hedge trimmers a good choice?

For general use they are more than adequate, but most only offer run times of less than one hour and some corded models are more heavy duty.

I have a good hose but it has a small break in the middle, can I patch this?

Cut out the bad section and connect the two lengths with a hose mender. Simply slide on the compression fitting and screw on the connector. There are also replacement male and female hose couplers that can replace damaged ends. The plastic ones are easier to use.

How much should I water my newly planted tree?

Regular watering is vital to a new tree’s health. New trees need at least 1” of water per week, whether it’s by irrigation or from rainfall.

What’s the difference between a 2- and 4-cycle engine?

With a two-cycle engine, you will have to mix oil with the gasoline. Two-cycle engines tend to be more efficient and usually require less maintenance, but only if properly maintained. However, they are also known for producing more pollution.

View category→

Encyclopedia-Terms (0)

Sliding Door

  • Made with safety or insulated glass and comes with a screen for hot-weather use.
  • Low-E glass offers protection from ultraviolet rays and is more energy efficient than regular glass.
  • Frames may be wood, aluminum, fiberglass or PVC vinyl in a variety of finishes.
  • Aluminum patio doors are generally the least expensive as they are the least durable and energy efficient.
  • May be two-, three- or four-panels wide. A two-panel door has one active (sliding) panel and one inactive (stationary) panel. A three-panel door has one active and two inactive panels. A four-panel door typically has two active panels in the middle and two inactive panels on the outside.

Premixed Mortar

  • Contains masonry cement and sand, everything but water needed for a mortar.
  • Used for laying brick and block as well as patching and filling in around masonry.

Granite Tile

  • Made of solid granite.
  • Similar to marble, but harder, denser and more durable.
  • Must be sealed after installation.
  • Commonly used on countertops.
  • More difficult to harm than marble, but also more difficult to restore when damaged.

Pine Shelving

  • Lumber 1” thick and of varying widths and lengths.
  • Most consumer inventories range from 1” x 1” to 1” x 12”, up to 12’ long.
  • From 1” x 1” to 1” x 6”, increments increase by 1”. Then, lengths increase in 2” increments from 1” x 8” to 1” x 10” and 1” x 12”.
  • Most consumer sales will be in 4’ and 6’ lengths.
  • No. 4 grade pine is commonly called “garage shelving”. Many consumers use it for basements and garages where looks are not important.

Reflective Foil Insulation

  • Radiant BarrierOne type is made of foil and poly to trap air between the sheets of foil, generally using bubble pack.
  • A second type expands when installed between stud spaces. The resistance to heat flow depends on the heat flow direction. This type of insulation is most effective in reducing downward heat flow.
  • Comes in long rolls of various widths.
  • May be used in conjunction with many different building materials and cut to fit any shape.
  • Typically installed between roof rafters, floor joists or wall studs.
  • When a single reflective surface is used alone and faces an open space such as an attic, then it is called a radiant barrier.

Saddle Tee

  • Joins a smaller drainpipe to a larger one, such as a 1-1/2″ pipe to a 3″ pipe.
  • Used when installing a drain on existing plumbing. Saves the labor of cutting and rejoining the main pipe.
  • Some types are made for joining a PVC pipe to a cast iron drain.

Clay Tile

  • A roofing material known for its durability, as it can last up to 50 years.
  • May be flat or rounded in shape, and may even have a glossy surface.
  • Can be made of clay or concrete.
  • Colors include reddish brown as well as blue and green.

Mitre

  • Changes the direction of a run of gutter.
  • An outside mitre is used for an inside turn of a gutter.
  • An inside mitre is used for an outside turn of a gutter.

Drywall Joint Compound

  • Is used in drywall construction as a bedding compound for the joint tape and to finish seams between drywall.
  • It is available in powder or ready-mixed form and comes in quarts, gallons and 5-gallon pails. Some ready-mixed types may also be used as texture paint.
  • One pound is sufficient for four lineal yards of joint surfaces.

Silicone Rubber Adhesive

  • Ideal for strong, flexible joints on wood, dissimilar surfaces such as metal, rubber, glass, ceramics, brick, wood and polystyrene foam.
View category→

Building Materials Terms (161)

Sliding Door

  • Made with safety or insulated glass and comes with a screen for hot-weather use.
  • Low-E glass offers protection from ultraviolet rays and is more energy efficient than regular glass.
  • Frames may be wood, aluminum, fiberglass or PVC vinyl in a variety of finishes.
  • Aluminum patio doors are generally the least expensive as they are the least durable and energy efficient.
  • May be two-, three- or four-panels wide. A two-panel door has one active (sliding) panel and one inactive (stationary) panel. A three-panel door has one active and two inactive panels. A four-panel door typically has two active panels in the middle and two inactive panels on the outside.

Premixed Mortar

  • Contains masonry cement and sand, everything but water needed for a mortar.
  • Used for laying brick and block as well as patching and filling in around masonry.

Granite Tile

  • Made of solid granite.
  • Similar to marble, but harder, denser and more durable.
  • Must be sealed after installation.
  • Commonly used on countertops.
  • More difficult to harm than marble, but also more difficult to restore when damaged.

Pine Shelving

  • Lumber 1” thick and of varying widths and lengths.
  • Most consumer inventories range from 1” x 1” to 1” x 12”, up to 12’ long.
  • From 1” x 1” to 1” x 6”, increments increase by 1”. Then, lengths increase in 2” increments from 1” x 8” to 1” x 10” and 1” x 12”.
  • Most consumer sales will be in 4’ and 6’ lengths.
  • No. 4 grade pine is commonly called “garage shelving”. Many consumers use it for basements and garages where looks are not important.

Reflective Foil Insulation

  • Radiant BarrierOne type is made of foil and poly to trap air between the sheets of foil, generally using bubble pack.
  • A second type expands when installed between stud spaces. The resistance to heat flow depends on the heat flow direction. This type of insulation is most effective in reducing downward heat flow.
  • Comes in long rolls of various widths.
  • May be used in conjunction with many different building materials and cut to fit any shape.
  • Typically installed between roof rafters, floor joists or wall studs.
  • When a single reflective surface is used alone and faces an open space such as an attic, then it is called a radiant barrier.

Saddle Tee

  • Joins a smaller drainpipe to a larger one, such as a 1-1/2″ pipe to a 3″ pipe.
  • Used when installing a drain on existing plumbing. Saves the labor of cutting and rejoining the main pipe.
  • Some types are made for joining a PVC pipe to a cast iron drain.

Clay Tile

  • A roofing material known for its durability, as it can last up to 50 years.
  • May be flat or rounded in shape, and may even have a glossy surface.
  • Can be made of clay or concrete.
  • Colors include reddish brown as well as blue and green.

Mitre

  • Changes the direction of a run of gutter.
  • An outside mitre is used for an inside turn of a gutter.
  • An inside mitre is used for an outside turn of a gutter.

Drywall Joint Compound

  • Is used in drywall construction as a bedding compound for the joint tape and to finish seams between drywall.
  • It is available in powder or ready-mixed form and comes in quarts, gallons and 5-gallon pails. Some ready-mixed types may also be used as texture paint.
  • One pound is sufficient for four lineal yards of joint surfaces.

Silicone Rubber Adhesive

  • Ideal for strong, flexible joints on wood, dissimilar surfaces such as metal, rubber, glass, ceramics, brick, wood and polystyrene foam.
View category→

Heating & Cooling Terms (56)

Stove Paint

  • Uses to touch up or completely refinish a stove.
  • Specifically designed for wood- or coal-burning stoves and can withstand temperatures up to 1,200°F.
  • Common colors include green, brown, blue, maroon and black, in gegular and metallic finishes.
  • To maximize radiant heat from the stove, use a flat black paint. It will radiate 90-98 percent of radiant heat. Shiny metallic finishes are less efficient.

Oil-Filled Heater

  • A convection-type heater that contains a factory sealed oil reservoir that never needs changing or replenishing.
  • A tubular heating element heats oil, which in turn heats the exterior of the heater.
  • Slow heating, but ale to provide uniform temperatures through out the space being heated.

Window Fan

  • Uses less energy than air conditioning and contains no chlorofluorocarbons.
  • Brings fresh air into the room while expelling hot air.
  • Typical size is 20”.
  • Larger window fans require mounting kits and side panels. The panels support the fan and prevent air from circulating around and back into the fan, resulting in a loss of performance.
  • Smaller units are easiest to install, as they come with the panels attached to the fan.
  • Used to intake and exhaust, for bringing inside air into a room or expelling inside air out of a room. Better models have electrical reversibility, which allows the user to switch from exhaust to intake without turning the fan around.

Digital Thermostat

  • Controls the temperature in a room turning on or off the furnace or air-conditioner.
  • Temperature is set electronically.
  • A popular type is a programmable thermostat that allows the use to preset temperatures for different times of the day.
  • A popular replacement for dial thermostats because they use the same wiring.

Wood Fireplace

  • Burns seasoned wood or manufactured wood logs to provide primary or secondary heat to a home.
  • Newer prefabricated fireplaces are more energy efficient than traditional masonry ones.
  • Must use a venting system. In a conventional, open-face fireplace, the chimney serves as the vent. The drawback is that it pulls warm air up the chimney and out of the house.
  • A prefabricated fireplace has an enclosed firebox made of a material that will hold some of the heat from the flue gases so more heat is radiated back into the room.
  • Fireplace systems will incorporate a damper in the flue, which can be closed when the fire is extinguished. Otherwise, the warm air will continue to flow out of the house through the draft that is created.

Vented Gas Heater

  • Requires vents to the outside.c
  • Available in medium- or high-output models ranging from 25,000 to 65,000 BTUs/hr.
  • Includes an enclosed radiating circulator unit with tempered glass in front of a series of radiants.
  • Designed to take up medium space.
  • Popular with consumers seeking to trim heating bills.

Floor Fan

  • Can be moved anywhere in the home to provide air movement that will cool and circulate air.
  • Sizes are generally 10” to 12” in diameter. They can be mounted in rectangular or round, hassock-type case.
  • A hassock fan throws air outward and upward in a 360° direction.
  • A rectangular fan will tile about 170° and may be used as a table fan, throwing air outward.
  • Typically has a speed-selection control, while some may run at a fixed speed.
  • One variation is the stand-mounted fan. This type can generally be easily tilted and may be used as an exhaust fan if placed near a window.

Gas Fireplace

  • Uses natural or LP gas.
  • Burns either natural or LP gas to provide primary or secondary heat to a home.
  • Conventional models require a venting system and a smoke dome or chimney installed through the roof.
  • Newer gas fireplaces can be vented through the wall using a power vent.
  • Built-in units require no special flooring or hearth front.
  • Can be converted to a wood-burning fireplace.

Non-Vented Gas Heater

  • Requires no outside vent.
  • Suitable for zone heating and is clean burning and inexpensive to operate.
  • Uses an oxygen depletion sensor (ODS). This device shuts off the heater and the flow of gas to the burner if the oxygen level in the room becomes inadequate. An ODS is required on all unvented heating equipment.
  • Infrared-type heaters of this type use a ceramic radiant or panel that is positioned above the gas burner. The ignited gas gives off a bright orange glow to produce heat. A screen-like guard protects the radiant plaques but they are not otherwise enclosed.
  • Convection-type heaters of this type first warm the air, which then warms the objects. Has burners enclosed within a painted or enamel-coated sheet metal housing that has air openings on the top, front and possibly the sides.

Oscillating Fan

  • Moves back and forth in an adjustable pattern to spread air over a larger area.
  • Oscillation function can generally be switched off with the turn of a knob.
  • May be used on the floor, a table or mounted on the wall.
  • Usually does not have as high an air delivery as floor fans.
  • Typically ranges in size from 8” to 16” in diameter.
  • Tile angle varies from about 50° to 90°.
View category→

Lawn and Garden Terms (144)

Chain Link Fencing

  • Durable, trouble-free fencing that offers safety and security.
  • Another type is plastic chain link fence, available in a variety of colors, including white, orange and green.
  • Installation is difficult, so recommend a how-to booklet available from manufacturers.
  • Install using a fence stretcher.

D Handle Square Point Shovel

  • Best for removal of loose soil and handling light materials such as sand and asphalt.
  • Not for heavy digging.
  • Available in light and heavy weights.

Bow Head Garden Rake

  • Rake head is attached to the handle with a long, curved bows extending from each end of the head.
  • Handles are usually 48” to 54” long.
  • Used to break up and smooth soil after it has been spaded and cultivated.
  • Has sharp, curved steel teeth to pulverize dirt clods.
  • The straight back is good for leveling the soil for planting.

Vinyl Hose

  • Most common type of hose and functions for most applications.
  • Reasonably priced.
  • The most common size garden hose sold is 5/8” and 50’.
  • The two-ply type is typically used as a promotional item and is susceptible to sun damage and deteriorates more rapidly than a rubber hose. It is lightweight and tends to kink easily.
  • The non-reinforced vinyl type is adequate for “open service” only, which means it is suitable for use with rotary or oscillating sprinklers, but is not recommended for use with any accessory featuring an integrated shut-off valve.

Sprinkler Timer

  • Attaches to a hose to control sprinkling.
  • Can be either electronic or mechanical.
  • User sets timer for the number of inches of water needed and turns off the sprinkler when the pre-set amount is reached.
  • Some timers can be pre-set to operate for a certain amount of time, regardless of the amount of water discharged.

Leverage-Assisted Trimmer

  • Used for a variety of lawn and garden cutting applications.
  • Uses a cam located between the handles with an off-center pivot that increases the cutting efficiency.
  • Reduces the effort required to squeeze the handles.
  • Designed for one-handed use.
  • Has a safety lock or catch to hold blades together while not in use.

 

Plant Hardware

  • Used in conjunction with pots or other plant containers.
  • Different types can include hooks and brackets in a wide variety of styles and finishes, including vinyl-coated and rustproof items.
  • Other features include rotating hooks or swivel brackets.

Premium Potting Soil

  • Includes perlite and vermiculite, which aid in water drainage and aeration.
  • Features a wetting agent that provides more uniform water distribution in the soil.
  • Some mixes contain fertilizer in either water-soluble or slow-release granular form.

Weed Trimmer

  • Used for trimming weeds where lawn mowers cannot reach.
  • Comes in electric and gas-powered versions.
  • Some gasoline models have a two-cycle engine, which uses a blend of two-cycle oil and gasoline in the gas tank. Gasoline models with a four-cycle engine do not require mixed gasoline.
  • D-handles are usually adjustable and allow for left- or right-handed use.
  • A strong monofilament nylon line serves as the cutting blade. Cutting path is typically 17”.
  • Straight shaft trimmers allow for easy trimming under shrubs and branches. Curved shaft trimmers are easier for trimming along sidewalks, etc.
  • Some models have a head that can twist and convert the tool into an edger.

Gate Hardware

  • A variety of latches, pulls, hinges and locking bolts are designed specifically for use on gates.
  • Types of latches include sliding bolt locks, magnetic, thumb action or padlock.
  • Hinges are usually reversible for use on left or right-swinging gates.
  • They come in tee, strap and hook-and-strap configurations.
  • Anti-sag kits are available that eliminate gate sag.
  • Usually constructed of heavy-gauge steel or with a tough polymer housing that is rust-free.
  • Ornamental hardware is often finished in black. Other types may be zinc-coated.
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Plumbing Terms (100)

Galvanized Pipe

  • Has zinc coating that prevents rust if not scratched.
  • Use primarily for carrying water or waste. Do not use for gas or steam.
  • Common water sizes are 3/8”, 1/2”, 3/4” and 1”. Common waste sizes are 1-1/2”, 2” and 3”.
  • Often sold in pre-threaded standard lengths, or can be custom threaded.
  • Use only with similar galvanized pipe fittings, not with black pipe fittings.
  • Measured using the I.D. (inside diameter).

Nipple

  • Any length of pipe less than 12″ used to extend a run of pipe.
  • Usually available in increments of 1″, from “close” (the shortest length, where threads almost touch) to 12″
  • Longer lengths of pipe are considered “cut lengths” and are available in 24″ increments.

Chain Vise

  • Helps hold pipe when cutting or reaming pipe.
  • Smaller than the yoke vise. Has a fixed lower V-shaped jaw with teeth on where the pipe is laid and a bicycle-type chain fastened to one end. When the pipe is inserted, the chain is placed over it and locked in a slot on the opposite side.

Epoxy Repair

  • Repairs small leaks in pipes.
  • A two-part material that looks like clay.
  • Just before using, break off a piece and mix together by rubbing between your fingers.

Flush Valve Seat

  • Located at the bottom of the tank.
  • Surrounds the opening that lets water into the bowl.
  • Kept closed by a rubber flush ball or flapper.
  • The flush valve seat is attached to the Overflow Tube, which drains water back into the bowl if the water level goes above it. This is a good safety precaution if the inlet valve fails.

Kitchen Sink

  • Undermounted Sinks (See bottom image) mount below the countertop.
  • Self-Rimming Sinks feature a rolled edge that mounts directly over the countertop. They are the most common and easiest to install.
  • Double sinks are the most common in new construction, with one bowl available for washing and one for rinsing dishes.
  • Single bowls are necessary in small kitchens with little counter space or can function as a second sink for meal preparation.
  • In triple sinks, the middle bowl is designed for the garbage disposal.
  • Shapes are rectangular or square; custom sinks can be round, oval or other shapes.
  • Standard size is 8″ deep; low-end sinks are only 5-7″ deep and top-quality sinks can go 10″ deep.
  • Sinks are constructed of many different materials including enameled steel, stainless steel, cast iron, brass, stone and composites such as quartz or granite combined with resin.
  • Enameled steel has a tendency to chip and is less durable than cast iron or stainless steel.
  • Stainless steel comes in different gauges; the lower the number, the thicker the steel. Thicker steel is less noisy, and undercoating can help dampen noise. Satin finish is the easiest to clean.
  • Other accessories for kitchen sinks include sliding cutting boards, clip-on colanders and custom dish drainers.

Black Iron Pipe

  • Not treated for rust resistance.
  • Used for carrying steam or gas.
  • Used only with black iron pipe fittings, not galvanized fittings.
  • Measured using the I.D. (inside diameter).

Pipe Clamp

  • Also known as a repair plate.
  • Used to repair small holes in pipes.
  • Consists of two concave pieces of metal and a rubber gasket. The clamp is tightened over the pipe with the gasket over the leak.
  • Easiest way to repair a leaky pipe.

Reamer

  • Removes burrs from the inside of the pipe. Burrs are the flakes of metal or plastic on the outside and inside of the pipe after the pipe is cut.
  • Cone-shaped, with ratchet handles.
  • Cutting edges can be sharpened, but this is difficult and time-consuming and the small replacement cost usually makes it impractical.
  • Straight-fluted reamers have straight cutting edges. They can be used by hand or in a pipe rotating on a power drive unit.
  • Spiral-fluted reamers have spiral-shaped cutting edges. They cut more easily, save time and are often used by sheet metal workers to enlarge holes in sheet metal and conduit box outlets, as well as smoothing inside edges of pipe. They are for hand use only.

Pipe Joint Compound

  • Pipe DopeAlso known as pipe dope.
  • Thick oily paste brushed on pipe threads before joining.
  • Prevents leaks, corrosion and makes it easier to disassemble.
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Home Security Terms (35)

Strike

  • The metal plate the latch slides into on the doorjamb or frame.
  • All new locksets come with strikes, but some homeowners may want to replace them with high-security strikes or replace damaged ones.
  • Adjustable strikes are available that provide 1/4” adjustment to allow for door and frame warpage.

Alpha-Track Radon Detector

  • Detects radon, a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas formed wherever there is uranium, an element present throughout the crust of the earth. It poses little risk if it makes its way to open air, but if it seeps into a house, it can collect in hazardous concentrations.
  • This detector consists of a small sheet of plastic. Alpha particles that strike the plastic cause microscopic pockmarks.
  • After an exposure period, users mail the detector to a lab. The lab’s count of the pockmarks gives a direct measure of the mean radon concentration.
  • Another type uses activated-charcoal granules, which trap radon gas. After an exposure time, the container is resealed and shipped back to a lab for analysis.

Latch Guard

  • Used on in-opening doors.
  • Reinforces the door and prevents spreading of the frame.
  • The standard 7” latch guard fits all backsets, deadbolts and key-in-knob locks.
  • The 12” latch guard also fits all double locks, mortise locks and access control locks.
  • Latch guards for out-opening doors protect the latch or bolt. Several sizes and types are available, ranging from 6” to 12”.

Continuous Monitor Radon Detector

  • Plugs into a standard outlet.
  • Samples air continuously for radon and provides updated reading on the display.
  • Alarm sounds when the long-term average of radon level passes an acceptable level.
  • Alarm will be repeated until the radon level drops back to the accepted level.

Combination Lock

  • User must dial a combination to open the lock.
  • Hardened solid steel alloys make better locks and shackles.

Carbon Dioxide Extinguisher

  • Extinguishes Class B and C fires.
  • Class B fires involve flammable liquids, gases and greases.
  • Class C fires involve electrical equipment or wiring where the electric non-conductivity of the extinguishing agent is important.
  • Has a limited range and is affected by draft and wind.

Pin-Tumbler Padlock

  • Provides maximum security for valuables.
  • Pin-tumbler locking mechanisms make padlocks harder for thieves to pick.
  • Tumblers with five or more pins provide the best security, while four pin is the next best.
  • Hardened solid steel and steel alloys make better locks and shackles.
  • Solid extruded brass padlocks are more resistant to rust than steel, but can be damaged more easily.

Dry-Chemical Extinguisher

  • Some types extinguish only Class B and C fires.
  • Includes sodium and potassium bicarbonate base agents.
  • Some types are marked general-purpose or multi-purpose. These types can be used on Class A, B and C fires.

Tubular Cylinder Padlock

  • Offers many key changes by replacing the cylinder.
  • Usually used in electronic security systems, but some owners of motorcycles and expensive bikes use them as well.
  • Pins are arranged in a circle and are exposed.
  • The key is cylindrical.

Foam Extinguisher

  • Extinguishes Class A and B fires.
  • Class A fires are the most common type. They involve ordinary combustibles such as wood, paper, cloth, rubber and many plastics.
  • Not effective on flammable liquids or gases escaping under pressure.
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Electrical FAQ's (92)

I’m replacing a light switch. How do I know which wire should be attached to each screw on the new light switch?

If you are replacing an existing switch, make a diagram of how the wires were attached to the old switch before you remove them. Snap a picture with your camera phone or draw a diagram. Then replace them in the same position on the new switch.

I have a circuit breaker that tripped. Is this dangerous?

Usually the problem is simply an overload and you only need to run fewer appliances on the circuit. However, if it is not overloaded and it keeps tripping, you should suspect a short. Also, look for a defective cord, socket or plug.

The tubes in my fluorescent light are graying near the ends; does this mean they are wearing out?

Working tubes usually have a gray tinge on the ends, but dark gray or black is a sign that the tube is failing.

What type of switches will I need to turn a light on from three different locations?

Two of the locations will use a three-way switch and the other location will need a four-way switch.

What does gauge mean?

Wires have size numbers that express their diameter. These are even numbers from 0 to 18, and smaller numbers indicate larger diameters that can carry more power.

What are voltage testers?

It’s an inexpensive tool that tests for live current. It can save your life. To use a voltage tester, simply plug its leads into a receptacle, or, if the cover plate is off, touch them to the screw terminals of the device. If current is present, the tester will light.

Instead of using a grow lamp, will placing my plants under a regular fluorescent or incandescent lamp work?

It might, depending on the light. But it probably won’t be as effective. Different stages of plant growth require different light spectra. The initial growing stage requires a blue spectrum of light, whereas the later “flowering” stage is usually done with red–orange spectra. Manufacturers of grow light bulbs design them to product a specific light spectrum range and lumen output to create an ideal growing condition for starting plants.

Can I add additional outlets to an existing circuit?

You need to figure the current circuit load in watts to see if it can handle additional use. The National Electric Code is 20 percent less than maximum. This means a 15-amp circuit has a safe capacity of 1,440 amps. A 20-amp circuit limit is 1,920 amps, a 25-amp circuit’s limit is 2,400 amps and a 30-amp circuit has a safe limit of 2,880 watts.

My fluorescent fixture does not seem to be putting out as much light as it used to. Could the tube be failing?

If the entire tube is dim, it may simply need washing. Try removing it and wiping it with a damp cloth.

How do I connect a wire to the terminal on my light switch?

Bend a stripped wire 180 degrees by bending it over the tip of needle nose pliers. Wrap the wire clockwise around the screw so that it will stay in place as you tighten the screw. Don’t over tighten and make sure there is no insulation under the terminal.

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Heating & Cooling FAQ's (61)

How big of a stove do I need?

Bigger is not always better. Check the tag for the BTU rating. Do you need a stove for the whole house or just one room?

Why should I use distilled water with my humidifier?

Certain types of humidifiers such as the ultrasonic humidifier should be used with distilled water. If not, the humidifier could leave a sticky, white dust around the house. It could also contribute to elevated levels of bacteria residue and mold particles in the air.

How do I know how much loose-fill insulation to buy to insulate my atttic?

First measure the attic floor area, and then divide that by 1,000. For example, if the dimensions are 30’ x 40’, or 1,200 square feet, you divide that number by 1,000 and get 1.2. The label on the bag of insulation will tell you how many bags you need to cover 1,000 square feet. Multiply that number by 1.2.

Do I have enough vents in my attic?

You should have one square foot of vent area for every 150 square feet of attic floor space. The vent manufacturer will list the vent area on the package as the FVA (free vent area). The vent area must also be split between high and low vents. If a vapor barrier is present, then the requirement changes to one square foot for every 300 square feet. Shingle manufacturers require that attics have adequate ventilation; otherwise their product warranty may be voided.

How much space should there be between the stove and surrounding objects?

There should be a 36” clearance on all sides of the stove to prevent scorching or possible fire.

Does the tank size contribute to the efficiency of the humidifier?

No. Larger tank sizes merely mean you won’t have to refill them as often.

How often should I change my furnace filter?

Normal time periods are one month to three months.

What is the best type of vent system for my house?

Most builders agree that a ridge vent system is the most effective as well as the most cost-effective.

What is the difference between a stove with a catalytic combustor and a non-catalytic combustor?

A catalytic combustor stove lowers the temperature required to burn wood efficiently. The stove burns fuel slowly and also burns off smoke that would otherwise leave the chimney as wasted fuel. This type generally doesn’t need much cleaning. A non-catalytic combustor stove (a recirculating stove) uses a heavily insulated firebox that keeps the heat in and creates a more complete combustion. This type also has a secondary combustion chamber that burns off more gasses and soot.

Where should I place my humidifier for maximum efficiency?

Place portable humidifiers near an inside wall, preferably facing a stairwell. Also keep the unit at least 6” from the wall for proper air circulation. Since moist, warm air rises, an upstairs floor unit will not be as effective.

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Plumbing FAQ's (121)

How do I join PVC fittings to PVC pipe?

Use a solvent welding glue, which softens the pipe and fittings so they can melt together.

What’s the most likely reason my sump pump isn’t working?

Usually its the switch. If the pump shifts inside the sump pit, the float switch may become stuck and not float freely on the water. Debris can also get into the sump pit and interfere with the switch action.

What are the advantages of plastic supply lines?

They are less expensive, do not corrode, will not kink, are more flexible and are non-toxic.

What is a flare fitting?

A connector is slipped over the end of a copper tube, which is then flared out using a special tool. The fitting can then be screwed into another fitting.

What is plumber’s putty?

It is a sealing putty used for a variety of tasks including to seal basket strainers, garbage disposal rims and tub drains.

I’m not getting enough hot water from my electric water heater. What could be the cause of this?

The temperature control may be set too low. Otherwise its probably a faulty heating element or thermostat, which can be replaced.

What type of plunger should I use to unclog my toilet?

The best type of plunger to buy is one that includes a flange around the bottom. This allows the plunger to create a better seal inside the toilet. For more information on the best products to clear your toilet, watch our video “Unclogging a Toilet.”

I bought a new faucet with a built-in pull out spray nozzle, and now I have an extra hole in my sink where the pull-out spray used to be.

You can use this hole for a variety of handy accessories, such as a soap dispenser or for the dispenser of an under-sink water filtration system.

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