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Tommy tackles a tough question around trim work.

Tuesdays With Tommy: Real vs Plastic

In this installment of Tuesdays With Tommy, we ask the woodworker and host of Rough Cut - Woodworking with Tommy Mac for his take on how plastic and composite woods stack up against the real thing.

You may think you know where this is going, but Tommy isn't so quick to throw the "fake" stuff under the bus. He does offer some good advice for those who want to go down that alternative road, too.

The Problem

Sally from Washington: I have some exterior trim to replace. What are your thoughts about Azek or other PVC or "plastic wood" molded products? Or am I better off sticking with real wood? Also, under what circumstances would you personally go with something other than real wood?

The Answer

Tommy: This is a complex question. It's important to keep in mind that, like wood, those composite materials have different grades. You can get the cheapest, but you need to know that it's likely it's going to bend and warp and bow in the weather. Also, some of those products don't take paint very well. There are also concerns about cutting it and inhaling the fibers.

If you want to use composite, do your homework. Read up on safety specs. Treat it like any other material. And make sure you're getting what you pay for.

I would have reservations about using in on my own house. On the other hand, it may be a good alternative to buying box store pine trim. A lot of that type of trim is fast growth trees, so it doesn't have the same type of structure that it once did. It tends to decay quicker.

For me, the best trim is always going to be something that is naturally weather proof, like red cedar. I'd personally go with that caliber wood.

But if I was forced to use it, I'd probably use it for trim work or perhaps decking.

Never lose a pencil again.

Quick-Draw Pencil Pincher Keeps the Tool On Hand

Any carpenter, contractor or woodworker will tell you that having a pencil on-hand is vital. While the behind-the-ear tuck job is a common solution, not all ears are created equal. Pencils fall. They get lost. And with them go precious moments, mental calculations and in-the-zone flow.

Northwest Ohio native Gary Downing came up with a solution to the problem called "Quick Draw," a simple velcro device that keeps a pencil strapped to your thumb for easy marking and drawing. The tip protrudes just beyond the end of the thumb and can be easily removed for a sharpening job. "Measure it, Mark it and Cut it FAST" goes the Quick-Draw mantra.

There's a 100% satisfaction guarantee on the $2.25 device. Be sure to check out the quick video demo on the product website.

Very cool. Very clever.

Enter to win home improvement supplies!

Summer DIY Give-A-Way | Contest and Giveaways

Home improvement supplies running low? Restock your shelves by entering Renovate Your World's Summer DIY Give-A-Way, sponsored by Loctite. We are giving away 25 Loctite Projects Packs containing a great selection of glues and adhesives that are sure to come in handy for your next project.

Visit our contest page to submit your entry to win.

To learn more about Loctite’s products click here

Good luck on your next project!

Getting Dents and Scratches out of Hardwood Floors

A few months ago I went to the National Home Builder's Show with the Renovate Your World team to get a feel for new products on the market. While there, we met with the group from Lumber Liquidators to see their hardwood flooring displays. I didn't need new floors at the time, but was in the process of selling my condo with three years of wear and tear on its beautiful oak hardwoods. There were definitely some scratches and dents I needed to fix -- or cover up with carpet.

I happen to mention this to John Jakob, the Director of Merchandising, who was showing me around. And he turns to me and says he has a trick for my knicks -- wax paper and an iron!

I have to tell you that I just tried his technique and it's pretty good (see the before and after pic)! Here's what you do:
1. Warm up your iron to high heat.
2. Tear off a piece of wax paper to cover your dent. Place over the scratch.
3. Place a towel over the paper and start ironing the towel. Use pressure and go over it a few times.
4. Lift up towel and paper and see how it looks. Mine is definitely less noticeable.

Do you have any tricks for your hardwood floors? Getting out stains, scratches -- or preventing them? Tell us!

The Zadok Hammer Pad makes pulling out nails safe on wood.

A Safer Way to Pull Out Nails

Ever notice how pulling out nails with a hammer claw leaves marks on the wood? Donald Shenk did, and he decided to do something about it. A skilled craftsman with a commitment to building more efficiently with wood, Shenk saw an opportunity to give the building and DIY world a badly-needed innovation and seized it.

The result was the Zadok Hammer Pad, one of those amazing creations that has the two qualities of a brilliant invention: 1) it is dead simple and, 2) everyone will wonder how they ever lived without it.

The image tells all. The Hammer Pad is little more than a rubber pad that slips over the claw and head of a claw hammer, protecting a wood surface when the claw is used to pull up nails. Each pad retails for just $5.75. Dead simple. Dirt cheap.

What's the worst way you've damaged your walls with a hammer?

Get organized in 2010! Eliminate clutter in the garage with an organizing system.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from everyone here at Renovate Your World!

Having trouble deciding on a New Year's Resolution? Here are some suggestions:

1) Get fit! Yes, 90% of the country's population has this same resolution. But you can take it one step farther. Design and create your own home gym. You'll save on membership costs, and you will have no excuse not to go every day.

2) Learn woodworking! By making your own shelves, chairs and what-have-yous, you'll be saving money (again) and learning a cool new hobby. Check out these handy How To Videos to get started learning key cutting techniques.

3) Get organized! Clutter is so 2009. Purchase and install a few closet organizers. They make a world of difference.

4) Help others! Pick a charity from our Charity Blog Series and see how you can be a little more selfless in 2010.

5) Spend more time with family! That's easier to do when the hub of the home--the kitchen--is a place you are proud of. A whole kitchen remodel may not be in the budget for 2010, but you certainly can swap out the old faucets, install some new appliances or change up the cabinets without breaking the bank. Check out these beautiful kitchens for inspiration!

What is your New Year's Resolution?

High Tech Carpentry

Don't know the difference between your mohagany and your ash? No sweat. With the I.D. Wood app for your iPhone, you'll look like a pro every time. Simply enter the name of the wood you are investigating and the I.D. Wood will give you its origins, description, woodworking properties, common uses, durability and sustainability. A great tool for carpenters, woodworkers, cabinet makers, hobbyists and wood fetishists. All this knowledge for only $2.99, not bad.

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