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Hole in wall repair made easy

When fixing up a house or changing things around, it’s inevitable that you’ll have to patch some holes in the wall. Small nail holes are easy to fill with a bit of spackle applied with your fingertip, but bigger holes can be tougher, unless you know a couple of tricks that make hole in wall repair easy.

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Repair a Weller soldering gun

I scored a Weller 8200 soldering gun at an estate sale one street over from me for a few dollars. They didn’t know what they had. I got it home and it didn’t work–it wouldn’t heat up–so maybe they knew exactly what they had. Lucky for me, it’s easy to learn how to repair a Weller soldering gun yourself.

Make sure the tip isn’t broken, then loosen the two nuts that hold the tip to the gun, then tighten the two nuts back down tightly. This breaks away oxidation and provides a good mechanical and electrical connection required to conduct heat.

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I replaced an outlet with a GFCI and my light switch quit working

I once had an electrical outlet with a light switch next to it, in a bathroom. When I replaced the outlet with a GFCI, the light switch quit working.

When you have a GFCI and a light switch is involved, you have to wire things a bit differently so it all works.

Here’s how I fixed it, using a length of wire (use black, or if you only have white wire, put some electrical tape on it) and a wire nut.

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How I set up office hours in Google Voice

If you have a side business, you need to offer customer service, but it’s also perfectly reasonable to not want your phone to ring at 3 a.m. You can fix that if you set up office hours in Google Voice.

Fortunately it’s easy to set up Google Voice to allow your phone to ring during office hours and go straight to voice mail after hours. And the nice thing is, Google Voice transcribes your messages. This makes it very easy to filter out people who are calling you trying to solicit your services at 25 cents on the dollar. I can’t say for certain that people are more likely to do that at off hours. But it’s certainly more annoying to get awakened at 3 a.m. by someone wanting to lowball you. And yes, I speak from experience.

Here’s how you do it if you don’t want to be disturbed at unreasonable hours.

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Where the red wire goes in a light fixture

A friend was replacing a light fixture in his bathroom and ran into something confusing–a red wire in the electrical box along with the usual black and white wires. And when he hooked up his new light fixture, he did what I would expect the majority of homeowners to do–he connected the white wire on the fixture to the white wires in the box, and the black wire on the fixture to the black wires in the box. And then his light switch wouldn’t work–the light stayed on all the time.

He was on the right track when he asked what the red wire is for. That was the key to solving his problem.

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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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How to mark vinyl tile on the front

Sometimes you need to mark vinyl tile on the front before you cut it.

Here’s the scenario. You’re cutting a vinyl tile to fit an intricate spot on the floor. And you need to measure it with the top showing. So you measure it and draw your pattern. Then you start to cut, and you find out the hard way that the pencil or pen marks wipe away. And they’ll probably disappear before you finish cutting.

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Vinyl tiles won’t stick to floor? What to do.

As I write this, I’m installing self-stick vinyl tiles in an old basement as part of a project to modernize a ’70s man cave. It’s possible to run into a few problems when installing vinyl, so I thought I’d run through them, along with the solutions. When vinyl tiles won’t stick to the floor, there are ways to prevent and fix the problem.

Getting vinyl tiles to stick to the floor is mostly a matter of having a clean, dry floor, using the right primer, and using enough heat and pressure. Good prep work and the right tools and technique makes a bigger difference than the cost of the tile.

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