Many people love antiques, but they can be costly. If you aren't a purist and are willing to "fake it," here are some easy ways to make new furniture look old.
• Old furniture has worn areas, around the corners and near handles. You can make them look worn by using a rasp to grind off sharp corners. Then use sand paper to smooth the areas. It's instant aging.
• It's not just the edges of furniture that get abused over time. The top surface is also usually heavily damaged. Use a hammer or some other heavy, metal object to inflict injury on the surface.
• Scratches are a sign of age, too, and things like nails and chisels can create years' worth of scratches in just a few minutes.
• An ice pick or awl can be used to make "worm holes," a sign of old age on many real antiques.
• Paint and stain can be used to create an aged appearance, too. Rubbing dark stain into cracks and crevices will make a piece of furniture look old.
• If you are going to paint the furniture, rub a little petroleum jelly on some edges and corners before applying the paint. It won't stick on these areas, and you can wipe the paint off easily once it's dried on the rest of the surfaces.
• Paint on several different colors of paint and then sand and scrape off the top layer or two to show the colors underneath.
• Use black paint and a toothbrush to make tiny fly specks on the finish. Other dark stains and spots may be added in other areas to show a lot of age and wear.
These are just a few ways you can create "old" furniture out of new pieces. You'll need to come up with a great story of how you came to own the piece, too. It's just part of the process, so have some fun with the furniture and your friends!
Switching swinging doors can make life easier
Did you know that most appliances with swinging doors can be switched so that the door opens the opposite direction? It's true for refrigerators and dryers, and probably a lot more as well. Most of the time it's just a matter of removing the door and hinges and transferring them to the other side of the opening. This could change your life! Maybe that's a little overly dramatic, but it might make life a little easier. Just check your owner's manual and see if you can make the switch.
When making sawhorses, use hinges and chains for added flexibility
Some projects just can't be done without a good sawhorse, or a set of them. You can buy them, or make your own. Some hardware stores even sell kits that, combined with your own lumber, make it easy to construct. But one of the best plans that we've ever run across was designed with hinges. The hinges will allow the sawhorse to be folded flat for easier storage. Add some rope or chain between the legs to keep them under control. It also will allow you to adjust the height somewhat. You'll like these, and you'll want to hang on to them for a long time.
• Sodas taste great, but also can be used to remove rust and corrosion from metal objects. Scary, but true.
• I have found a super-easy way to remove ink stains from a variety of surfaces. Rubbing alcohol -- or any kind of alcohol, for that matter -- will work. It works on ink pens, markers, price stamps and other ink stains and marks.
• When you cut up an onion for grilled hamburgers, save the "butt" end. Then use it to clean off your grill grate when you've finished all of your cooking.
Q. My dryer seems to work fine, but it's leaving spots on my clothes. I think it's rust from a slightly damaged area inside the dryer. Should I paint this or cover it with something?
A. Use steel wool to sand away all of the rust. Then you can use epoxy paint, made for high heat, to paint over the bare metal. That should take care of the problem. Just check it periodically to make sure it doesn't need a touch-up.
Q. I don't think that we have much insulation in the wall between the garage and the house. I would like to add more. What type of insulation will be the easiest to add?
A. If the wall is just exposed studs, perhaps you can install batt insulation. Another option or addition to the batts would be rigid foam panels. If the wall is finished, see if you can cut holes between the studs and add loose fill or blown-in insulation. You might also check around for a contractor and see if foam insulation could be added to the wall. We've even seen some DIY foam applications that are worth checking out. Good luck, and that's a smart idea for saving money and being more comfortable.
Q. My house is in pretty good shape, but I have been hearing a loud metallic sound that I think is coming from one of my rooftop air vents. I think I have figured out which one is making the noise but don't know what to do to stop it. Got any ideas?
A. Go up into the attic and watch the fan as it moves. It should be easy to see if one of the blades is hitting something or if the spindle needs to be lubricated. You may have to access it from the roof side to make repairs. Just be careful, and you should be able to handle it. These rarely have any major problems and, if they do, can be replaced without a lot of expense.
• I love to restore cars, and I have two that I am working on right now. I use a lot of hand cleaner in the shop. It's great at getting the grease off my hands. I've also discovered that you can rub it into grease stains on your clothes like you would to pre-treat a stain. When you put the clothes through the wash, the stain usually will come out. At least it works pretty well for me!
• Our old closet rod was made of wood. It's hard to believe that it would sag, but if you saw the amount of clothes we store on it, it's easy to understand. We decided to replace it with a metal rod. We just went to the hardware store and chose a length of iron rod and had it cut to fit. I don't think that will sag. If it does, we might need to have a garage sale!
• We have a couple of vacuum cleaners that we use on a regular basis. The one that my wife uses the most is the upright, which is primarily used on the carpeted parts of our home. It has a rotating beater bar that gets clogged easily with thread and other long fibers. It's my job to keep it working. I have found that the easiest way to get these strings off the bar is to use a razored letter opener. It cuts right through this stuff and makes it easy to pull off.
• My kids found a good way to stay neat when painting. They just turned their shirts inside out. All of the drips were then on the inside of their shirts. Even though some of the paint didn't come out of the shirts, nobody can tell, because it's on the inside of the shirt, not the outside.
• I broke one of my favorite glass vases. I thought I might try to glue it back together, but I was going to need some kind of clamp to hold the pieces together while the glue dried. I decided to use my gel cold pack. It's heavy and would be easy to drape around the curved surface. I'm not sure, but I think the cold even helped the glue set faster. The vase looks pretty good and barely shows the damage.
• Summer is a great time of the year, but in many parts of the country, it also is humid. This can bring on mildew problems. Mildew is not only smelly and ugly -- it also can ruin walls, carpeting and just about any surface it gets on. Learn how to rid your home of this problem once and for all. We've put together a pamphlet called "Mildew Around Your House," and it is full of tips to show you how to get rid of mildew and how to keep it from coming back.
• The one thing about a landline that we miss is that you can have a phone in every room so you never have to miss a call. But with so many people using cellphones today, if it's not on you or is on silent, it's easy to miss a call. The Renny Ringer is a neat add-on for cellphone users. It's a small device that can be placed anywhere in your home and, through Bluetooth, alerts you to an incoming call even if your phone is on a silent setting. It can even announce who is calling, and you can answer and take the call from this device as well. It's perfect for use in a home workshop. Another feature allows it to broadcast music from your phone, just like an expensive speaker. Check it out at www.rennyringer.com and see it in action. You'll also find where you can pick one up for your home or office.
• We make fun of the fact that duct tape can be used for just about anything. Well, Super Seal Spray-On Duct Tape can be used to do even more. It's perfect for sealing metal, rubber and plastic leaks, and can be used indoors and outside. The patch is tough yet pliable, and it sets up quickly. You can apply several thin coats, waiting five minutes between each coat, and can be ready to use it again in about 30 minutes. You even can paint over it, so your repairs will be barely visible. It's great for the car, gutters, ductwork, hoses, insulation, some pipes, planters and pots, and many other places. Super Seal Spray-On Duct Tape is available at a variety of stores, including discount and hardware stores, auto-repair supply stores and other outlets. For additional information, go to www.idqusa.com.
• 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.