On the Level is a home remodeling & repair blog to keep you informed on the products and trends that we see in the field.

Choosing a Fuel Source

When your're choosing a fuel source for your home heating system, start with available fuels in your region, because not all fuels are available everywhere and some are cleaner and more efficient than others. Based on your chosen fuel—natural gas, fuel oil, light propane gas, and kerosene are the most common—you can figure out how much heat a gallon will give you and how efficient that fuel is likely to be. Called the standard heat value, the amount of heat a fuel can produce per gallon or cubic foot is measured and reported in Btu (British thermal units). The higher the Btu produced, the more efficiently the fuel burns and the greater its heat value. Fuel oil, for example, has a heat value of 135,000 Btu/gal., while liquid propane gas produces 91,000 Btu/gal. Next you need to plug that information into the furnace selected. How many Btu/hour the furnace or boiler releases determines its output and will help to decide how much furnace you need to heat your space to the desired temperature. This is how the pros size and evaluate your heating needs. Following these formulas, you can plot out your energy usage, optimal furnace size, and desired output, too.
Read More

Carving vs. Sanding

Never begin sanding on the wood of any carving project until you have completely finished carving it. The small particles of abrasive that lodge in the grain can dull your carving tools fast, and can quickly destroy all the benefits of using good sharpening equipment and techniques.
Read More

Chalk Marks

When you process wood in your shop, it is helpful to make notations on boards so you remember which have been cut to length or run through equipment like planers or jointers. Instead of using pencils for the notes, use chalk. Chalk lets you mark the wood without marring it so you can be more liberal with your notations. An inexpensive children's sidewalk chalk set will provide several colors so that you can color-code your marking system.
Read More

Drying Glue

Do you have any chairs, tables, or other wooden furniture that are a little wobbly due to the glue drying out? Here's how you can tighten things up. First, disassemble the joined pieces. Clean off all of the old glue and dirt with warm vinegar. Rinse with clean water, and let everything dry completely. Use yellow carpenters glue to reassemble all the pieces back together.
Read More

Carpet Padding

When purchasing carpeting, you should buy the best-quality carpet you can afford, coupled with the highest quality padding. In fact, the padding that goes between the carpeting and the subflooring is as important as the choice of carpeting itself. Padding provides softness and support, cuts down on noise and insulates the floor. Often referred to as "underlay" or "cushion," padding thickness depends on the pile of the carpet above it. Padding should be no thicker than 7/16 inch, even for a very deep pile carpet. Too much cushion can actually void a manufacturer's warranty; so, take the time to find the padding that is right for your new carpet.
Read More

Hammer Types

What size do you need? Many experienced carpenters use a 16 oz. claw hammer for most jobs, but also carry a 20 or 22 oz. framing hammer for their heavier nailing jobs requiring big spikes. For lighter work, a 13 oz. curved claw hammer can be useful. Even a 7 oz. hammer will come in handy for smaller jobs like making picture frames.
Read More

Blind Holes

When drilling blind holes in iron or steel, fine metal bits usually fall into the hole. To remove them, you can use a strong magnet and a soft iron or steel rod that is smaller in diameter than the hole. Push the rod to the hole bottom, then press the magnet to its upper end. Keeping the magnet to the rod, pull it out of the hole and brush away the bits of metal. Repeat until all of the metal bits are removed.
Read More

Blade Balance

A sharp mower blade is a key to a perfect cutting job. However, whenever you sharpen a blade yourself, always check it for balance. An out-of-balance blade can cause excess mower vibration and wear. One way to check is to tie a metal washer onto a string, thread the string through the center hole of the blade, then hold the blade up with the washer supporting it. The washer should be on center and turned perpendicular to the blade. The blade should stay level. If it doesn't, grind it for balance on the back side of the blade. Always disconnect the lawnmower's sparkplug wire before removing or replacing any blade.
Read More

Bent Nails

Bent nails often result from poor hammering technique. However, they can also be caused by a dirty hammer face, especially when using cement-coated nails or working around adhesives. If you have problems, occasionally run a piece of fine sandpaper or emery cloth over the face. If you keep the face clean you will gain more solid contact with the nail and will avoid black marks on the wood caused by a dirty hammer.
Read More