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posted: 8/31/2012 4:59 AM

Here's how to clean up as you drill and enjoy your hard work sooner

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Drilling is just part of the standard fun involved in a wide variety of home projects. Depending upon what you are drilling into, you can create quite a bit of debris while you're at it. Here are some of our favorite tips for keeping the mess to a minimum.

• Always wear protection over your eyes. Safety glasses will prevent flying debris from getting into your eyes.

• Keep fans and blowers turned off when you are doing this and many other messy projects. This will allow the dust to settle and not keep it stirred up. You even can close off the whole room with a plastic dropcloth taped over the door if you need to.

• If you need to drill overhead, you can add a "dust-catcher" to your drill. Drill or punch a hole in the center of a clear, plastic bowl and fit it over the drill bit to catch the sawdust as you drill. The clear plastic will still enable you to see what you are doing to get the project started, but will catch the bulk of debris as you continue. You can recycle scrap plastic packaging for this if you don't have a bowl handy.

• If you will be drilling into a vertical surface, tape a trash bag to the wall just under your drill site. The sawdust will fall right into the bag as you work, and cleanup will be a snap.

• If you are drilling on a horizontal surface, like a floor or table, keep your shop vacuum handy. You can set it up with the hose lying right next to your work site and flip it on as you begin working. The vacuum will suck up the sawdust just as fast as you can make it.

As you can see, we think cleaning as you go is a better way to do a project. That way, you can enjoy your hard work a little sooner.

Clamp wood before cutting

Working on wooden projects is so much fun! Recently we cut out six of the same pattern when working on a plant stand. To make it go faster and to get all six pieces exactly the same, we clamped them together and cut them all at once with the saw. The project looks really nice, and just a little sanding was all that was needed to finish it before painting. Duplicate pieces are done a lot more easily and precisely this way. Give it a try!

Tip with masking tape

Skating can be fun, whether you're on wheels or blades. But when you are trying to drill into a slick surface like glass or metal, skating can cause a lot of trouble. We always put a piece of masking tape over the drill site, for a couple of reasons. First of all, you easily can mark on the tape just where you need to drill. Second, the tape provides a rough surface, which prevents a lot of the skating problems.

Super hints

• If you are tired of turning off the lights that others forget to turn off or have lights that are not convenient to get to sometimes, use motion sensors to activate them. You can find them in switches, bulb bases, lamps and even some bulbs. It's a no-brainer in basements and garages!

• We painted the trim on the outside of our home this spring. We have had a lot of wasp nests around our home, and we are constantly having to remove them. One area that is a favorite place for the wasps was in our entryway, so I had the painters paint that ceiling with Haint blue, a Southern tradition that is supposed to keep the wasps from building nests. I have to say that after several months, there are no wasps on the Haint-blue overhang. There might be something to this tradition after all.

• Keep blades of all kinds sharp and ready to use. A dull blade will slow you down and actually can be dangerous. Blades to sharpen include saw blades, shovels, hoes and knives. Replace those that cannot be sharpened.

Q. I replaced my refrigerator's water filter, and now it's leaking. What did I do wrong, and how can I fix it?

A. If the filter wasn't installed properly, then it will leak. Remove it and look for a crack, missing washer or some other issue and reinstall it. It is possible the housing around the filter has cracked. Make sure you use the proper replacement filter to avoid this issue. The housing is easily replaced and, with a little hunting, you should be able to get the part for not too much money.

Q. I have a question about installing gutters on my house. I know they need to slant toward the ends where the downspouts will be placed. How much should they slope? Is there some standard rate to go by?

A. The standard slant for gutters should be about an inch every 16 feet. A little more or a little less probably won't make that much of a difference. You'll be glad to have the gutters on your home. Make sure the water coming down the downspouts is channeled away from your foundation, and plan on cleaning the gutters every season to keep them running smoothly.

Q. We have a sliding-glass door that is hard to open. It sags at the back edge and is getting hard to lock, too. Is there anything I can do besides replace it?

A. These doors have small wheels that are located under the track along the bottom. If you take a closer look at the door, you might find that the wheels have been damaged. You also can look for small screws on the door frame near each wheel that can be used to adjust them up or down. If you need to take the door down to work on the wheels, carefully, and with help, lift it up into the top of the track and then lift it out from the bottom. Most hardware stores carry universal replacement parts you can install yourself. Use your helper again to reinstall the door. Good luck!

Reader tips

• I didn't mind using plastic edging for the front flower beds. I did want them to look better, though, so I decided to try the new paint that is made for plastic. I painted them all brown, and they really look neat. They were easy to install, and the brown color looks much better than the standard black that everyone else has. They even look like rusted metal to some people, which surprised me. They tell me it looks like real wrought iron! It kind of does, from a distance.

• We have watering restrictions where we live. It's OK to use soaker hoses but not sprinklers. I have started using the soaker hoses in my gardens, and I love the results. I can water every day if I need to, and the plants are looking great. I've even noticed that my water bill has gone down! I guess I'm not wasting water with the soakers, either.

• My wife decided to paint the bathroom, and I needed to find a way to cover the countertop. I looked for a tarp or plastic cover but didn't come up with anything. I decided to try another approach. I rubbed a layer of oil on the surface to prevent paint from sticking to it. It seems to have worked. My wife did drip a couple of times, and the oil made the counter resist the paint. It was easy to wipe off when she was finished.

• I was surprised to see the drywall guys working in our entryway to repair some water damage. They were wearing plastic shower caps on their heads. When I came back into the hallway later and saw the mess on the floor, I figured out why the shower caps were needed. All of their protective gear was really smart, because they cleaned up the mess in about two minutes and were on their way out.

• We have done a lot of work on our home this past year, and we finally got to the second bathroom. We decided to use the same tile as in the hallway, so we had to do it all at the same time. I found a rolling plant stand to set the boxes of tile on while I was working. The wheels sure made it easy to move the tiles as I worked along the hallway. It saved me time and a backache!

Shoptalk

• When working indoors, paint with no VOCs is the best way to go, especially if you have kids or any family members with health issues. It's healthier for everyone and doesn't have that "fresh-paint" smell. There are lots of VOC-free paints on the market but few of the other essentials you need for the job. SMART is a zero-VOC line of products that includes a primer/sealer, caulk and spackle. All are top-of-the-line products and contain no VOCs, glycols or solvents, and they are completely odorless. Get all of the details at www.gardner-gibson.com, including the name and address of a dealer in your area.

• Duct tape can do a lot of things, but the standard variety has a lot of drawbacks. Thank goodness for Camo Gorilla Tape. The double-thick design has twice the adhesive of traditional duct tape and is made to stick to rough, uneven surfaces that other tapes can't handle. Put it on brick, stucco, plaster, stone and wood. The heavy-duty cloth backing resists moisture, UV rays and temperatures extremes. It comes in a variety of colors, but we like the camo because it says "super-tough" when you look at it. It's available at most hardware stores these days, and you can go to www.gorillatough.com to find out more.

• 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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