Category Archive: Home Maintenance

DIY Week – Budget Friendly Tools

I’ve recently added following inexpensive, budget friendly tools to my DIY arsenal.  They’re great for projects around the house and basic woodworking.  They are inexpensive – but not cheap – and they help me get the job done.

My favorite new toy tool for the year is the Kreg R3 Jr. Pocket Hole Jig System.  I’ve used it several times this year – to make a shelving unit for my daughter’s room, to build a small table for a family member, and to join the legs on my shop bench. The Pocket Jig allows for the drilling of pocket holes, which then accept pocket screws. This system replaces more complex joinery, allowing for quick, strong assembly of project components. I’ve included a link to Amazon if you’d like to purchase your own Kreg Pocket Jig. I really like mine. Also, here’s a link to a pintrest page filled with pocket hole projects.

One of my long-term goals is to build a dedicated workshop in our backyard. For now, however, I work on most projects in our garage or my shed. So, I’m a big fan of small, easy to use tools like the Black & Decker JS660 Jig Saw with Smart Select Dial. It’s inexpensive, cuts through an assortment of materials, and is great for the novice woodworker. My son and I used this jigsaw to build several birdhouses this past spring.

I’m constantly using my cordless screwdrivers and impact driver around the house – and I find that standard-length driver bits are often too short. I did a bit of searching and found this budget friendly IIT 64370 6-Inch Power Driver Bit Set, 9-Piece. They extend the reach of both the drill and the driver and they fit both flat-head and Phillips-head screws.

Last year, I purchased a router – and I was shocked by how expensive router bits can be! I searched and searched for an inexpensive set and was pleased to find this 24 piece ROUTER BIT SET with Aluminum Carry Case. I’m not a professional so I don’t need super expensive, industrial grade router bits. These work great for me. They’re sharp, they come in a nice case, and they work.

By the way, if you are unfamiliar with how to use a router, here’s a video from the awesome Steve Ramsey with a brief how to:

And here’s a link to the very budget friendly SKIL 1830 120-Volt 2-1/4 HP Combo Base Router Set. For less than $100, it’s an awesome deal.  It’s a powerful tool and I’ve used it on multiple woodworking projects – including a top-secret Christmas present I’m building for my wife. Shhhhh.

DIY projects are fun – and they can save you lots of money – but not if you go broke buying expensive tools.  These budget friendly tools help me fix stuff around the house an make things for my friends and family.

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Tomorrow is day two of DIY Week.  I’ll have another budget friendly article – with a focus on inexpensive, awesome DIY projects for around the house.  I think you’ll dig it.  Blessings.

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How To Save Money On Repairs

Here are a few tips and tricks for saving money on repairs –

Keep track of your manuals.  I have a binder wherein I keep the manuals for all of the tools and appliances that we buy.  Quick tip – If you’ve lost your manual, check online.  Search by manufacturer and model number.

Check to see if the item is under warranty.  Remember those little warranty cards that come with the stuff you buy?  They’re important!  Keep up with them – and register stuff.  If something breaks, and it is still under warranty, you may have it repaired, or replaced, for free!

See if you paid for the item with a credit card.  I know, I know.  I’m no fan of credit cards, but, that doesn’t take away from the fact that several credit card companies offer extended warranties on items purchased with their cards.

Take a look on youtube.  If you have a bit of a “DIY” spirit – search for the repair that you need to make on youtube.  I’ve learned how to replace the drive belt on my dryer and to repair our garbage disposal, simply by watching videos on youtube.  What an awesome resource.

Talk to friends and neighbors.  I was talking to my neighbor the other day, telling him about building a small desk for my son.  A few days later, he stopped by – and asked if I could help him with a small project, repairing a broken board on his front porch.  He saved a few bucks – and I got to repair the board and look like a hero in front of my boy!

tool wall repairs

Visit your local library.  This is old school – but very, very practical.  I love old woodworking books, and our local library has several of them.  I’ve learned how to frame up a shop, install an electrical outlet, and lay shingles, all from books available at most libraries.

Check out the bulletin board at a home center, lumber yard, or feed store.  I live in a rural part of the state – and there are dozens of carpenters who tack their business cards to bulletin boards in local stores.  Grab a few of these and make a few calls.  You might be surprised by the reasonable rates some will offer – especially if the job you need doing is a one-person gig.

Discuss the cost for parts and supplies before hiring a contractor or carpenter.  Often, these folks will be able to buy parts and supplies (think lumber, paint), cheaper than you can.  However, in some cases, if you are willing to do a little legwork, you might find better deals.  Discuss this with your carpenter and figure out what works best for you.

Buy new?  This can be a tough one – but there are times when purchasing a new item is actually cheaper than fixing an old one.  So, do a bit of research and make sure that a repair is worth the money.  Blessings.

Find out if the item has been recalled.  I almost forgot this one.  It’s a good idea, any time you have a product that isn’t performing like you think it should be, to check for a recall.  A simple internet search will reveal several sites where you can find recall information.

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Getting Our House Ready For Fall

A quick Google check confirms it:  The first day of fall is September 22.

I had to look that up just to be sure, because the high today was 91 degrees, which is decidedly un-fall-ish.

In just a few weeks (hopefully!) the weather will turn and fall will be here.  In preparation, I’ve been working hard to get our house ready for fall – and the winter to follow.

Outside

Rain Gutters – At the end of summer and winter, I clean out our rain gutters.  With several large oak trees in our yard, it’s important to routinely remove fallen leaves from our rain gutters.

Vinyl Siding – Our house has vinyl siding and I pressure wash the siding (at least) twice a year.  I’ll do so this week, washing off the dust of from summer mowing, so that house will look nice for fall.

Tool Shed – The summer is a busy time in the yard – and that means that tools get used – and often misplaced.  I like to take the time, while the weather is still nice, to organize my tools.

Lawn Mower – I use my lawn mower year round – to mow the grass in spring and summer – and to mulch leaves in fall and winter.  So, at the end of each summer, I sharpen (or replace) the blades, change the spark plug, drain and refill the oil, and replace the air filter.  I’ll repeat this at winter’s end.

Pipes and Spigots – We rarely have to worry about long periods with freezing temperatures, but I’m still mindful of the need to insulate exposed pipes and outdoor water spigots.

Shrubbery – We have a few shrubs which require annual pruning, which I’ll take care of, as soon as temperature drop.

Inside -

HVAC – We have electric heating and air.  I recently replaced all HVAC filters throughout our house.  This is important, because a clogged filter reduces efficiency, which increases electricity costs.

Refrigerator Filter – Our refrigerator has a water filter which needs replacing every 6 months.  I replace at the end of each summer and winter.  These things can be quite expensive – so I buy the 2-pack and save a few dollars.

Carpets – We have a mixture of carpet and hardwood in our house.  At the end of each summer, I’ll clean the carpet in our den.  I’ll also spot-clean throughout the year.  We don’t have pets, so we’re dealing mainly with foot-traffic.

Detectors – There are several smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in our house – and I change their batteries each year, on the first day of school.  It’s an odd habit, but it’s my way of always remembering!

Laundry Room – I visually inspect the hoses that connect our washing machine to the water supply.  I also clean out the dryer vent and dryer vent hose.

Clothing – Our kids just keep on growing, which means they have clothing that no longer fits.  Now is a great time to sort through their closets and get rid of, via charitable donation or yard sale, clothes they do not need.

I love the fall, with milder temperatures and lots of football.  It feels good to get the above mentioned tasks taken care of – so that we can better enjoy the season to come.  Blessings.

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My DIY Adventures

Over the past few years, I’ve worked to improve my DIY skills.  Here are a few of the projects I’ve tackled – with an eye towards saving money and doing it myself.

I replaced the garbage disposal below our kitchen sink.  This project was relatively simple.  I worried a little bit about the electrical connection, but I figured it out.  The disposal connects to the bottom of the sink via a special bracket and connects to the dishwasher via a long hose.  Prior to disconnecting the old disposal, I snapped several pictures of its various connections.  When connecting the new disposal, I referred the the pictures, and installation was a snap.

I built three shelving units for our kids. We have three kids and they have stuff. This past Spring, I built each of them a shelving unit. Using my Kreg Pocket Hole Jig and the table saw, these were simple, easy-to-build projects. My real struggle – I like to build but I’m not much of a fan of painting!

DIY Bookshelf Shelving UnitI replaced our dishwasher’s drain hose. This hose connects the dishwasher to the garbage disposal. This was a bit of a challenge, because I had to unscrew the dish washer from the kitchen counter brace, roll it out, and then remove the drain hose. The drain hose was filled with water, and removing it caused a bit of a mess. If you plan to tackle this project – be sure to have plenty of towels on hand! Side note: Finding the correct size hose was a bit of a challenge. For some reason, the fitting-size (on the end of the hose) isn’t universal.

I replaced the dryer belt on our dryer. Now, this one was a bit of a struggle. For some reason, the dryer belt on our dryer was slipping. (I’m pretty much convinced that it was over-stretched when the dryer was built – or damaged during transport.) I took dozens of pictures during dis-assembly. I had to remove the dryer door, the metal casing, and the back panel. Then, I had to figure out how to support the drying drum, removed the old belt, and then put the new belt on. It took me some time (and a few skinned knuckles), but I managed to replace the belt – and put the dryer back together. Now, it works just fine!

I repaired the trim around our back door. Our back door is exposed to the elements – and water had damaged much of its trim. I replaced the wooden trim with vinyl. This was a super-simple repair, made much easier because I could rip the trim with my table saw.

I (tried) to repair our toilet. This was a huge fail. Our toilet needed a new wax ring – and after watching several videos and talking with a couple of friends – I was convinced that this was a project I could tackle. Well, I manage to break one of the bolts needed to attach the toilet to the floor, drop a wrench down the toilet drain, and buy, not one, but two incorrectly sized wax rings. In the end, I called a plumber – and $75 later, the toilet was repaired. Lesson learned.

I like DIY projects. It feels good to fix something – and to save a little money.  Most of the time, I can figure things out, but there are times when I get in over my head, and it’s good to have professionals to call.

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