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Basement: The Last Frontier

The basement is probably the most underrated area in the house, but if it's refinished it will be like adding another room, or even another floor altogether. There is a lot of different choices as far as the aesthetic layout, but it's been quite popular to add home theaters or wet bars; something that doesn't seem so basement-ish.

The following material will be some advice on some preliminary start up points to get going on a basement project. Also, some basement ideas will be tossed around a bit to get your creative juices flowing.

First, Questioning the Contractor

Before you start perusing through your local yellow pages looking for someone to contract your basement remodeling job, you will want to have some foresight so you don't pick one that you will regret. Just like finding a mechanic, it can be worrisome as you think that you are running crapshoot with who you choose to hire.

Scour the neighborhood or scan your rolodex. A friend or family will know someone who did some home construction work in the past, whether it was a room extension or a hardwood floor install, there should be praise of some group's handiwork. If you canvass the area you can get someone who can refer you to a proper contractor.

In addition to word of mouth, going online to visit your state licensing site is a good tool to help screen your choices. For instance, if you were looking for a Salt Lake City remodeling contractor you would go to Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing and run a search.

You can find some reference to those who are licensed, or if you have picked up some names, you can cross check them with the board's list. Keep in mind, however, that being listed on the board only means that they've at least met minimum requirements. Getting a good verbal reference still holds a little more stock in making the final decision.

Once you get to the screening portion of your conversations with the contractor, it's important to know what you will be getting into as far as cost and quality of work. Some important points to consider when forming your questions are:

- The hourly rates charged
- Rates for any part of the project that is not exactly related to the job at hand, like if you have to do some plumbing work
- If there are parts ordered, will the hourly rates be in effect still while you all wait
- What sort of insurance does the contractor have and are they bondable
- If money is one of the biggest issues, ask if there are better rates during the season

Some Basement Designs

Out of all the design ideas you may have in your mind, think warmth first and foremost. This is the leading reason why people avoid the basement -- it's cold and dark making it uncomfortable. So when you formulate the design, try to think about lighting the downstairs with maybe some windows and a heat source.

A fireplace or heated floors are some examples of a heat source. Also if you cannot make windows, or they are out of your budget, try looking into some good artificial lighting with natural color spectrum.

 


Choosing The Right Workshop Tools

Choosing the right Workshop Tools for your workshop will relate invariably to the type of workshop operation you have in place. Obviously the home workshop will require some different tools than a commercial workshop. The home workshop is typically smaller than a commercial counterpart and therefore can only support the specialized tools of the particular niche. A commercial workshop that provides auto repair will be a lot bigger on the norm and require a variety of tools to support it. Let's take a look at some of the tools that might be needed in a residential workshop or in a commercial workshop.

Residential Workshop

Residential workshops will almost certainly require the basic hand tools used by workshops everywhere including screwdrivers, hammers, and socket wrenches, ratchet wrenches, vice grips, pliers and more. These same tools are a main stay in the commercial workshop too. Residential workshops will typically have a variety of saws as well like the table saw or band saw, especially if a lot of wood work is being done. Work tables and benches will often have clamps mounted to hold things in place so that they can be worked upon.

Grinders and sanders are often used in home workshops as well. These are common tools that can be beneficial for certain applications. Welding Mechanic Tools are common place in the residential Garage Equipment too. The home garage is bound to have some type of cordless drill and a variety of Car Tools as well if wood is on the hobby list. If auto repairs are completed in the home workshop then a floor jack and car ramps come in very handy. It does not hurt to have an auto repair manual for the car in question as well. A battery charger is a nice addition to the home workshop too.

Commercial Workshop

The commercial workshop can be an entirely different ball game. Not only are hydraulic auto lifts a necessity, but so is the drill press, brake lathe, air compressors and air tools. Floor jacks and car ramps are vital in an auto workshop too. The same basic tools used in the home shop are necessary in the business one. The auto workshop will need auto repair manuals for a variety of cars, trucks, SUV's, ATV's, and motorcycles if they are on the service list. Welding tools are needed for projects on a variety of exhaust systems. Tire changers are included for workshops that offer tire service. This also includes a wheel balancer. Some saws are also needed in the commercial workshop.

The auto workshop will need a variety of tools from tube benders to a variety of gauges used to run a wide range of tests on various parts. The business bound for success will choose the best Workshop Tools for their workshop environment because they know the best tools will save them time, which in turn will save them money. Whether oil change tools or carpentry tools are on the agenda it is vital that the tools are chosen wisely.

 


Old Furniture Starting Your Home Project

Even the designers on TV are doing it; finding great furnishing at flea-markets, charity shops, and yard sales. Often, a wonderful piece of furniture can be had for mere dollars, especially if its finish is in desperate need of some TLC. Unfortunately, the design shows on TV dont show you all the proper steps for refreshing your finds. Take the time to do it right, and your new furniture will have friends wondering where you shop!

1. Safety first: Before you disturb any painted surface, you should think about the possibility of lead. Lead paint additives were phased out in the 1970s and 80s. If you suspect lead is present in any paint, you can find information about safety precautions and testing at epa, or by calling the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD. Even with newer surfaces, I find that a dust mask is always in order when sanding. Your lungs will thank you.

2. Sanding: Not all pieces will require sanding before repainting. My mantra is to leave well enough alone when dealing with old paint surfaces. If, however, the paint is chipped, peeling, crackling, or has other problems, you might not be able to avoid the sandpaper. A small electric hand sander is my best friend for these situations. A very light sanding (really just scuffing) can help your new paint adhere to old oil paint or a glossy surface.

3. Prep, prep, prep: The number one reason for paint failures is incorrect preparation. Time spent on prep will ensure you get a good result in the end. Make sure the surface is completely clean and dust free before you ever get the paint out of the can. If you have sanded the surface, remove dust with a tack cloth. This is a small piece of cheesecloth soaked in wax, available at your local home improvement store in the paint section. They cost around one dollar get several to keep on hand for the next project! If you cant find one, several thorough passes with a damp cloth followed by another pass with a dusting cloth can do the job. Most importantly, dont rush your prep work.

4. Taping: Carefully tape off any areas you dont want painted, and burnish the tape edges down once, firmly, with a fingernail. If you think you might have to leave the tape on for more than a day or so, use a lower adhesion tape made for delicate surfaces.

5. Priming: If the piece is unpainted, consider a coat of primer before you paint. There are excellent primers specifically made for stone and metal. Tell your paint store rep what youre painting and follow her advice. Use a good latex or oil-based primer for wood surfaces. Some wood grains (pine or cheaper grades of oak, for example) may rise after a first coat of latex, and priming improves the chances that you can avoid this. The raised grain will feel rough. If this happens, youll need to sand the grain down lightly and prime again. Dont worry; its not as bad as it sounds when you know what happened!

6. Painting: Finally, time to paint! Use a good quality paint brush. Be careful not to overload your brush with paint and put it on too thickly. This is a common mistake. Painting in thick layers can lead to ugly drips, cracks, or drying delays. Instead, paint in thin coats, allowing time for each coat to dry completely before recoating. This will give you a beautiful and strong surface.

7. Curing: Follow the instructions on your paint can to make sure your new furniture is safely cured before you begin to use it or place objects on top of it. Paints, latex in particular, can feel dry well before they really are. When in doubt, I like to wait 24-48 hours before I place my newly painted flea-market beauties into service.

Now, enjoy your new furnishings. Use them well and never fear; if they get chipped or you tire of the color, you know how to fix it!

 


Carving Hand Tools

What may perhaps have started out as an interesting pastime while carving pumpkins for Thanksgiving may develop into a passionate hobby or vocation for people interested in carving. Besides providing hours of patient industry it can also be a lucrative and rewarding task. There is a lineup of hand tools for carving designs that help do the job skillfully.

Carving tools come in different styles depending on shapes, uses and sizes. It is good to know about the different kinds of tools used for particular jobs. Before you decide on what tools to acquire you need to pay attention to surfaces on which you would be carving. Woodcarving remains the most popular that includes fine detailing work like letter-carving, relief carving or figurine carving.

Several types of tools would be needed to cover the different fields of carving like wood and stone and so on. Carving tools are by necessity designed for specific applications. For instance parting tools in V shapes are narrow and smaller in size. The cutting edge is either 40 or 60 inches and almost always they are used for edging or corners that need finishing off.

Veining tools are usually in U shapes. They are small in size and used for making grooves and rough lines. Flutes are larger in comparison and largely used for making surfaces smooth for perfect finish. Chisels range from narrow sizes to the widest size. They are used for flat-cutting of edges and making appropriate finishes for the sharp edges.

Skew tools are like chisels to be used for straight cutting of edges occurring at 45 degrees. Depending on type of cutting they give the left skew or the right skew. Long bent gouges are best for making concave curves and to make hollows. Spoon gouges in concave shape with straight shanks are used for gouging. Back bent gouges having convex-shaped curves bending backwards are for working from the undersides.

The size of curved carving tools determines the radius of the curves. And so tools with low size numbers are mostly used for finishing. Conversely hand tools having larger curvatures have big size numbers suited to making deep cuts. It is best to have a good carving tool set that is a great investment for hobbyists or DIY's involved in home improvement jobs.

Since carving tools cover the majority of projects that may be undertaken, normal carving work would require apart from individual tools and sets certain carving accessories like carver's clamps and mallets too. Chip carving knives and whittling knives are really the primary tools needed to make a start on this fascinating hobby and are both simple and inexpensive.

Miniature carving tools can be handled by kids wanting to learn the craft. They are not children's tools but are simply smaller in size making them handy for kids to work on the surfaces under hand pressure. Well known manufacturers like Robert Sorby, Hamlet Craft Tools, Henry Taylor and Flexcut offer quality carving hand tools and whittling knives.

 


Cutting Hand Tools

Cutting hand tools are a common requirement in home improvement projects. Many simple hand tools cut wood and other materials by using physical force for undertaking such tasks. A handsaw is the most frequently used tool for cutting wood, There are different kinds of handsaws to be used depending on type of cutting job.

Ripsaws, big solid hand saws with teeth are designed to cut along the grain of wood. While crosscut saws have teeth designed to make cuts perpendicular to the grain of the wood while maintaining a clean cut. Bow saws have long thin blades connected by bowed metal frames allowing it to cut through. Coping saws are small and used for detailed wood cutting.

Axes used for splitting wood are used as an alternative to chainsaws for felling trees or chopping firewood. They come in many different shapes and sizes. Some axes have only one blade, while others have blades on both sides. Small hand axes are called hatchets. A maul may also be used to chop wood and having a broader and heavier head with a sharp edge makes for a nice tool.

Hedge trimmers are a type of hand tool used to cut small branches. Looking like large pliers with two long handles they are useful for cutting pieces of wood that can fit within their jaws. Chisels are sharp metal tools used along with a hammer to cut, split or shave wood. A chisel is basically a metal wedge that can be driven powerfully by using a hammer.

Modern cutting hand tools make it possible to cut through stone and tile. It may not be your everyday project and would require some amount of expertise. Drills, hammers and cutting tools make it quite daunting. A set of stone and tile cutting tools include coring and hammer drills, grinders, and a variety of saws.

Most wood cutting tools have at least one bevel. This is the sloping surface coming off the edge. But it's more than just a sloping surface. It's actually a cutting angle. With the bevel supporting a specific cutting angle, it determines how the tool can be used. Experienced people know about bevels and how they affect cutting efficiency.

The cutting angle of your carving tool or length of the bevel determines the strength of the wood you cut. The greater the cutting angle the steeper and shorter the bevel. If you're going to cut soft woods, you'll want a small cutting angle on your tool's edge. If you're going to cut hard woods, you'll want a large cutting angle on your tool's edge.
An important point to remember is the size of the cutting angle on the edge that determines how much control you'll have when cutting. When you know the fundamentals of how cutting angles on beveled edges affect cutting efficiency you will learn all about any cutting tool you hold in your hand. You will thus avoid simple mistakes and become a skilled cutting tool user.

 


A Tool Cabinet for People Who Have More Tools than will Fit in a Tool Box

Where do you keep your tools if you have so many (either for your work or just because you are obsessed with tools) that two or three tool boxes just are not big enough? A tool cabinet. Though it sounds fairly basic, even a tool cabinet is more than it sounds and can come in a variety of sizes, configurations and materials.

First there are the obvious cabinets that hang on the wall with special storage options specifically designed for tools. One tool cabinet that I have seen is made of metal and has a work space that folds down. This is really nifty. To see it hanging on the wall, it looks like a regular cabinet with two handles to open the doors, but instead of opening doors, you use the handles to pull the front of the cabinet down. The "bottom" of the cabinet lies flat against the wall and the "door" becomes the work area. Even niftier, is that the back and bottom of the cabinet is a pegboard, with two small shelves and plenty of space to organize a large variety of tools. Another really cool feature is that if you want to have a vice or other tool attached to the bench top, you can leave it in place when the cabinet is folded closed. There are also detachable legs that can be used to offer more support when working on heavy jobs.

Many tool cabinets come on wheels so that you can move them around your shop or garage to where the work is, instead of having to continually move back and forth to your tools. This helps keep your tools better organized because there is less chance that you will just leave your tools lying around to put away later. Most of these cabinets have a multitude of narrow drawers, though others have an actual cabinet plus drawers. These come in many sizes, with varying heights and widths.

Some of the wider ones I have seen are quite deluxe. They have a hinged lid and drawers are of varying sizes. Plus there is a small locker that can be mounted on either side of the cabinet. These are for the serious tool jockeys!

Some of the roller tool cabinets come in two sections, with the top part being a detachable tool box. This is handy if you do most of your work in one place, but occasionally do need your basic tools for other jobs. You can simple detach and carry the top box to wherever you need it.

The last main type of tool cabinet that I have seen is similar to a tool box in that it is smaller, but it is designed to be used in one place. It is set on top of a counter and has multiple drawers. It is different from tool boxes because it does not have a carrying handle and does not have a hinged lid.

Two nice thing about almost any tool chest is that it is lockable and they are heavy duty - usually made of metal. So if tools are your thing, whether by necessity or choice, then you may need a tool cabinet to hold all you tools. And as you can tell, there are a variety of options for you to choose from to find what will work best for you.

 




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