Spray painting tips to paint like a pro

I’ve gathered a lot of spray painting tips over the years but I’ve never seen more than 10 collected in one place. Spray paint is a tool, and using it is a skill you can learn. With a bit of practice, you can get enviable results and make the object you’re painting look better than new.

Whether you’re painting something for your house or for your hobby, here are more than 20 spray painting tips to help you paint with the best of them–in the order you’re likely to need to use them in your projects.

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How to cut corners on baseboards by not cutting corners

Cutting baseboards can be tricky. Rooms are rarely perfectly square, so just cutting baseboards at 45-degree angles on the ends doesn’t usually yield a perfect corner. So instead you usually have to fit the pieces into the corner, trace the outline of one onto the other, then trace the angle onto the top and bottom, then cut the outline with a coping saw–at the correct angle.

But what if I told you that you didn’t have to?

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Repairing Lionel transformer cases made of Bakelite

Bakelite was the world’s first synthetic plastic, invented in 1907 and was commonly used for everyday objects in the mid 20th century. Lionel used it for transformer cases well into the 1960s. As a general rule, if a vintage Lionel transformer case isn’t metal, it’s probably Bakelite. For example, the highly desirable Lionel ZW and KW transformers used Bakelite casing. If you’d like to try to repair Bakelite transformer cases, read on.

Today, Bakelite is a specialty material. Although it’s generally a strong material, there are other plastics that tend to be more durable in everyday use, and they are cheaper. Another problem with Bakelite is that it is difficult to repair, although it’s not impossible.

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Loose brick repair with epoxy

My home inspector told me about an easy, inexpensive and nearly permanent repair: Loose brick repair with epoxy. It works really well if you need to fix a loose brick in something like a fireplace or a retaining wall. Epoxy is a effective loose brick adhesive.

Epoxy works because it’s stronger than cement. And while it’s not economical to use epoxy for mortar instead of cement, in small quantities it’s cheap enough, and much quicker.

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How to open an Asus Memo Pad 7 HD and fix the battery

My son’s Asus Memopad 7 HD would not power up or charge, and my earlier non-invasive solution wouldn’t fix it. Here’s how I opened it up to disconnect and reconnect the battery.

Always try holding the power button and volume down button first because that’s easier (see the link above for details), but if that doesn’t work, proceed to open the case.

While you’re in there, you can also fix an issue that may be causing the power or volume buttons to be hard to press or malfunction entirely. Dropping the tablet a lot makes this happen. If you have young children, you probably understand.

Another malady these tablets can develop is a battery with a question mark when charging. This will sometimes fix that issue as well.

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Don’t buy a house if you can’t afford it

I see the advice all the time not to buy a house if you can’t afford it, but rarely do I see a good explanation of what that means.

It’s really easy. Let me explain it, as someone who paid off a 30-year mortgage in five years and now co-manages rental property and has to determine if someone can afford to rent from us or will be over their head. And no, just because I’m a landlord doesn’t mean I think everyone should rent. There are definitely times when buying makes sense. Read more

Setting up Retropie on the Raspberry Pi

I bought a Raspberry Pi over the weekend intending to turn it into a retro gaming system. I’d rather not have a mess of systems and cartridges out for my kids to tear up and to constantly have to switch around at their whims; a deck-of-cards-sized console with everything loaded on a single SD card seems much more appealing.

I followed Lifehacker’s writeup, which mostly worked. My biggest problem was my controllers. NES and SNES games would freeze seemingly at random, which I later isolated to trying to move to the left. It turned out my Playstation-USB adapter didn’t get along with the Pi at all, and was registering the select and start buttons when I tried to move certain directions, pausing the game.

When I switched to a Retrolink SNES-style pad, the random pausing went away. The precision reminded me of the really cheap aftermarket controllers of yore for the NES and SNES, but at least it made most games playable. It could be my controller, which I bought used, is worn out. I’ll revisit controllers later this week. Read more

A cheap kitchen makeover

The kitchen cabinets in the house we live in have seen better days. They were reasonably well-built, but 50 years of raising families–mine is the third family raised in this house–took their toll on them. A couple of years back we painted them, to cover the scars of the years. It was an improvement, but the color dated itself pretty quickly, and we didn’t use the highest-quality paint, so the finish wore fairly quickly.

This time, we repainted them white. We used an expensive Benjamin Moore Decorator White in semi-gloss, because it looks good, but also because we’ve found it to be durable in other projects. And you’d be surprised how many half-million-dollar houses have white-painted cabinets. I’m an estate sale junkie, so I’ve seen a lot of half-million-dollar houses over the years, and I would estimate 40% of them have simple, white cabinets in their kitchens. It’s a look that doesn’t date itself, and is cheap and easy to take care of. (As a point of reference, a modest three-bedroom ranch house in the same county costs around $125,000.)

I’ve also seen people do this to improve the appearance of a house prior to flipping it.

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Nobody respects craftsmanship anymore

The New York Times laments the decline of craftsmanship and its side effects in the United States.

A generation ago, it wasn’t terribly uncommon for men to make their own kitchen cabinets. And those cabinets, if built correctly, would last several lifetimes. The cabinets my great-great grandfather built before the turn of the previous century survived just fine into my lifetime. A year ago, a prospective tenant took me to task for having such handbuilt cabinets in a rental house, and pointed to a couple of other rental houses–with particle-board Home Depot junk in them–as having “better updates.”

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