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posted: 7/27/2012 5:22 AM

Here are some ideas for using extra molding

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Crown molding, shoe molding and door trim are a few of the fancier moldings you can install in your home. Some people describe it as the icing on the cake of home decor.

It can be expensive, and you need to take your time and be careful with your cuts to avoid mistakes. But you can use the leftovers and even the "mistakes" for other smaller projects. Here are some of our favorites.

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Nothing is more decorative on the front of a plain shelf than some really ornate molding. A little glue and some finish nails, and you're done.

If you have enough, you can make a few miter cuts and create a really nice picture frame. A wide molding can make a tiny photo really stand out.

Use a small piece of banister to hold paper, a photo, letters and business cards. Cut a slit into the banister lengthwise for one of these items, or cut several slices across the top to hold several of these in a row.

A piece of molding makes a great base for coat and hat hooks for an entry. Use wooden pegs, brass hooks or even old glass doorknobs as your "holders."

You can do the same thing with a smaller piece of molding and some smaller hooks to create a key holder.

A short section of stair banister or thicker stock molding can be drilled out to slide pens and pencils into for a nice desk set. Drill down into the wood at an angle so pens will be easy to grab when you need one. Add one like this to your workbench, and add additional holes to hold a set of screwdrivers or other assorted tools.

Put your thinking cap on to come up with some ideas of your own. Most of us are limited only by our imagination, so have some fun! That's what do-it-yourself is all about!

Show off your shades

Plain vinyl or cloth window shades are a super way to block out the sun and nosy neighbors. They usually are fairly inexpensive and pretty easy to install, too. One way to customize them is to use paint, markers, stencils and stamps. Lay the shade flat on the ground, pulled open. Now decorate it with paint. Markers give you more control or can be used to outline drawings. Write messages. Use stamps and stamp pads to create something nice. Or try stencils to jazz them up. All of these things are easy, fun and will give you a one-of-a-kind shade for your window.

Double up to save time

Want to wind up your extra-long extension cords faster? How about in half the time? It's really very simple. Find the center point of your extension cord and fold it in half at that point, being careful not to crimp it. Now you can wind it on a cord holder, hose reel or around your arm. Since you're winding both ends at the same time, you should be finished in half the time.

Super hints

• If your hearth looks like the one in every other home in the neighborhood, why not replace the mantel with an antique one? You can find these at salvage yards, antiques stores and flea markets. A little putty and some new stain or paint, and you'll have a unique showpiece.

• A porch balcony that is up high can be dangerous, even with standard balusters, especially for small kids and pets. Plastic or wire mesh can be installed with cable ties to add a second layer of protection and maybe prevent a horrible accident.

• Keep in mind as you repair older pieces of furniture that the glue can be really tough to soften. A little warm vinegar poured into a glue joint will do a great job of loosening things up for repairs.

Q. I have a wooden fence that leans. I need to try to find a way to straighten it. I have put a two-by-four up against the fence post to try to push it up, but that can't be there very long, because it looks bad. What do I need to do?

A. If the leaning post is set in concrete, then you'll have to drag the whole thing out. If that isn't an option for you, cut off that post at the ground and set another post in concrete next to the damaged one. Make sure the new post is plumb and that the concrete has fully cured before attaching it to the fence panels. You may need additional two-by-fours to secure the fence to the new post as well. Good luck!

Q. I would like to know if it's OK to use sawdust from my workshop in my garden.

A. You can, as long as it's not from laminated or preserved wood. These materials have chemicals that are not good for the soil and may cause damage. Sawdust doesn't really add much anyway, but if you want to give it a try, we say go for it.

Q. We have a lot of sap stains on our driveway. The trees overhead drop their berries and other debris onto the driveway, and then the cars run over it and create lots of dark stains that are really tough to remove. What is the fastest way to get the stains off the concrete? Is there any way to protect the driveway after we finally get it clean?

A. We suggest a power washer. You might be able to get the stains off with just water. Use a cleaner made for your power washer if you need some additional help. Once it's clean and dry, apply a water seal to the surface. If you seal it once a year, you should have adequate protection from most stains, including these.

Reader tips

• My small workshop is in my garage, like a lot of less-than-super handymen. I don't mind the heat as much as I mind the humidity in there. It gets pretty bad in the summer. I have added a dehumidifier to the room and use it when I'm working out there. It really seems to help. There is a small vent in the ceiling, too. It works whenever the room is too humid, but the dehumidifier is a nice addition and really helps.

• With my new job, I have less time to worry about my plants, and watering them takes up too much time. I created some pretty neat self-watering planters for some of my smaller plants. I just cut a large plastic soda bottle in half, then pushed the top of the bottle, spout down, into the bottom of the second part of the bottle. Then I covered the spout of the bottle with a scrap of screen wire and set the plant -- dirt and all -- into the top part of the bottle. Then I watered it. The excess water runs down into the bottom part of the "planter," where the roots will wick it up as they need more.

• Our old shower curtain was in the trash, but I pulled it out to use as a temporary tarp for my painting project. I just repainted all of our patio furniture, and the tarp I had wasn't large enough, so the shower curtain was just enough to fill the gap. I was able to paint all of the furniture at one time. The other tarp, a lightweight plastic, didn't cover the floor in one area, and paint was dripped. It is so lightweight that it just blew around as I moved. The shower curtain made a much better tarp, and I even decided to save it for my next project.

• I bought a package of magnetic cup hooks to make hanging the mugs in our boat easier. I also found a great place to use the leftovers: in my workshop. I put them on my tool bench and table saw bench to hold some of the tools and accessories I use there. Boy, are they handy.

• I am the queen of getting gum out of hair, rugs and lots of other places. I have several methods, and the one I choose depends on the surface the gum is stuck to. Most work well with ice. The ice freezes the gum and makes it brittle, so it's easy to break off. When that doesn't work, I switch to oil of some kind. You can use vegetable oil, mayonnaise or even WD-40 in some cases.

Shoptalk

• Go2 Glue is a super, all-purpose glue that has the strength of polyurethane and the versatility of polyoxysilane. It's great for all types of projects. It's water-resistant, dries crystal-clear and is very long-lasting. It can be used on a wide variety of materials, including plastics like PVC, Styrofoam, glass, concrete and natural stone, nonferrous metals like copper and brass, and even mirrors. You'll want some for the house and for the workshop, and maybe an extra bottle for your toolbox. Look for it at most hardware stores or online at www.loctite.com.

• Galvanized metal finishes are known for their resistance to rust and corrosion. That's why they are so popular for so many metal surfaces. But even a galvanized surface can begin to rust. Once the rust starts, it just spreads, and then you'll eventually have a breakdown in the surface. Krylon has a Rust Protector made just for galvanized surfaces. This "primer" goes on over the rust to cover it and completely stop it from spreading. It is made for welded joints as well, and will prevent the rust from growing and spreading. You can find Krylon paints at most hardware stores, home centers and hobby shops. If you would like to find out more about the company's line of Rust Protectors or any of its other super projects, just go to www.krylon.com. There are some great project ideas featured on the site as well.

• Write to Al and Kelly Carrell in care of the Daily Herald, P.O. Box 280, Arlington Heights, IL 60006 or visit the Carrells' website at thesuperhandyman.com.

2012, Cowles Syndicate Inc.

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