How to be your own handywoman
When it comes to remodeling and improving your home, of course you don't have to rely on a man! Here are some tips to help you tackle home improvement projects on your own.
A Woman and her power tools
Carpentry is not just for boys. The wood is cut, the holes are drilled, it's assembled... and she has built it! Nowadays, don't assume the power tools belong to him -- they very well could be hers.
Carpenter Jeremy Plant says he will gladly teach any woman with an interest in carpentry how to work with tools, and, in fact, encourages breaking gender stereotypes. Plant recommends women interested in working with tools do their research first by taking a course, going online or buying a how-to book.
Many books will tell you exactly what tools are needed for your project. However, Plant suggests buying the following items to get you started:
- A basic toolbox (a Keter 19" Plastic Tool Box shown here)
- Multi-screw driver or a set of different-sized screwdrivers
- Hammer – suited to your strength
- Pry bar (aka crowbar)
- Small wood saw
- Hacksaw for cutting metal
Your first power tools
For more advanced carpentry, invest in a portable circular corded wood saw, and a jigsaw for slicing through metal. An extension cord allows you plenty of room in which to move around.
When selecting a drill, Plant prefers a corded electric drill to a battery-powered model, so you never have to worry about the battery dying mid-project. Plant also suggests buying good safety goggles and a surgical mask to protect you from flying wood fibers and pieces of metal.
"To get used to your tools, try building a little box before planning anything big," Plant says. But before applying blade to wood, Plant has a philosophy: "Measure three times -- cut once."
Start projects in small steps. "If you are going to start a project, such as staining a floor, first try a patch in the closet to make sure you have the right color. Whenever possible, work in a ventilated area, cover vents and lay plastic to minimize the amount of cleanup," says the carpenter.
Simple maintenance could save you big bucks!
In the shower
Before picking up your power tools, when things around the house start looking shabby, get handy.
Professional handywoman Lisa Visser says, "Keep an eye on your house -- beginning with your shower or tub enclosure." She says if cracked grout or a missing tile isn't properly replaced, within six months, a contractor may have to replace the entire wall of tile.
Watch your power outlets
Visser notes that outlets that spark when you unplug appliances are a real danger. Your terminals may be touching the sides of the electrical box, and this could cause a fire.
Leaking faucets waste water and cause corrosion. "You can change the washers so that major damage to the cylinders and taps can be averted," says Visser. "Also, a toilet that keeps running wastes a lot of water -- tens of gallons a month, so keep an eye on that."
"Have you ever noticed a water mark on your living room ceiling? Repairing it at the get-go can avoid having to replace the entire ceiling down the line," Visser says. "When paint begins to crack around your inside or outside windows and doors; ensure proper sealing, caulking and painting so water doesn't penetrate."
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