Home improvement and renovation tips


How to make and use an inexpensive water level

At some time or another, you’re going to need a level to determine horizontal or vertical planes, and naturally, different jobs require different tools. A standard carpenter’s spirit level will do for most jobs. Start with a 24″ or 30″ level, or a 4-footer if you’re doing a lot of framing or leveling bricks or

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Read more in Exteriors


Make your own butcher block – finishing steps

Last time we glued together your butcher block. When it’s dry, cut the finished block to length, and sand any uneven places on the surface. If you can get access to a surface planer, you’ll save a lot of time and elbow grease. You’re going to finish the top and sides with a food-safe oil,

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Read more in Kitchens


Drilling tips

It all starts with the kind of power drill you have. On the wish list of most homeowners, you’ll find keyless chucks (for quick-change bits) and cordless convenience (make sure you have a few extra batteries.) But even if you have a good old-fashioned drill, try these tricks. In case you haven’t already discovered it,

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Read more in Tools

A mouse ate my dishwasher drain hose and I don’t know what to do! (A quick fix)

I don’t know why they’re here. It’s summer and it’s warm and there are lots of goodies outside. But I guess that’s why they call them house mice. The water under the sink appeared between one onslaught of guests and another dinner gathering that night. So I took my usual decisive approach to a problem such as this. I ignored it. Something must have spilled. It was a momentary leak

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More reno demo tips – plumbing protection

Eric Z, a long-time reader, experienced renovator/builder, and former owner of a large building supply store in Toronto, had some smart suggestions after reading our reno-demo checklist. “I lost an entire renovation,” he writes. “$40,000 in damage – due to a shut-off valve failing in the night the day before the new sink was to be installed.” As you can see from this photo, during the entirety of our long

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Five-point checklist for a trouble-free renovation demolition

A recent kitchen renovation reminded me, in some cases a little too late, about some key areas to cover up during a demolition or drywall mudding/sanding. Here you go. Mask doorways into other areas of the house Well, duh. Okay, I did remember this one. For a major old-house plaster demo or drywall sanding, 6 mil plastic and painter’s tape do the trick to seal the openings well. We stapled

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