Saturday, January 26, 2008

How Every Guy Can Be a Handyman

Unclog a sink
Most blockages form in a sink’s trap (that curvy bit of pipe under the drain), says contractor John Palanca, cohost of DIY Network’s Under Construction. Put a bucket under the trap to catch the backed-up water. Unscrew the nuts holding the trap and pull the pipe downward to remove it. Clean out the insides with a bottle brush. Finally, wrap silicone tape (also called “plumber’s tape”) around the pipe threads and screw the trap back on tightly. Run hot water to flush out any remaining debris.

Fix a hole in drywall
1 Cut a square or rectangle at an easy-to-measure size—like 5 by 5 inches—around the hole with a utility knife, says former Sex Pistols front man John Lydon, who knows a few things about punching (and fixing) walls. Be sure to expose half the width of the closest stud.

2 Cut a new square of drywall to fit. Screw the patch onto the stud, and cover the cracks with a piece of joint tape. Coat the entire work area with a thin sheet of joint compound.

3 When dry, sand the area with a fine-grit sandpaper and apply paint primer over the patch. If you still see seams, coat with more compound and sand again.

Pull a stripped screw
Use a chisel to cut a deep horizontal groove across the head. Now use a flat-head screwdriver to gently back the screw out.

Repair hammer marks in wood
Lay a damp rag over the ding. Press a hot iron over the rag for a few seconds, and then check out the mark. The heat will cause the wood to absorb moisture like a sponge, forcing it back into shape. Repeat until there’s no evidence of your sorry skills.

Destink your fridge
Place an open bowl of ground coffee on the bottom shelf. Within a week, the coffee will absorb all of the foul odors—and leave behind the pleasing aroma of extrabold Sumatra.

Destink your bathroom
Switch on the fan and hold a single square of toilet paper to the grate, says Palanca. If the suction holds the paper up, the fan works fine—try a plug-in air freshener. If the paper won’t stay, you can either replace the fan (measure the hole and buy a new fan from the hardware store) or use an unbent coat hanger to reach up and clear out any clogs.

Secure your wireless Internet
Access your router’s setup menu through your Web browser—see your manual for the correct address. Once you’re in, start building your defenses.

1 Look for the tab that lets you change the “SSID”: That’s the name of your network. Make it something unique—think of it as a password.

2 Change the SSID broadcast feature, usually found under “advanced settings,” to “disabled.” Now, when a wireless modem looks for nearby networks, yours won’t show up.

3 Most routers have either wireless encryption (WEP) or Wi-Fi protected access (WPA). Crank the encryption up to its highest setting (probably 128-bit) and enter a password to generate a key. This will spit out a bunch of gibberish—that’s good. Copy everything down onto a notepad and save all settings.

4 The computer on which you set up the network will already be connected. When you want to connect another computer, you just need to type in the gibberish.

Unjam a garbage disposal
Most disposals have hex-wrench holes on the bottom. Insert your wrench and reverse the blades, freeing the jammed item. Then reach in and grab it.

Stop a toilet from overflowing
Quick! Take the lid off the tank and lift the rubber ball to shut the inflow valve to the bowl.

Replace stained carpeting
1 Cut a perfect rectangle around the stained carpet and up to the closest wall. At the base of the wall is a tack strip that will help hold down the new piece.

2 Using the stained square as a template, cut the patch to fit exactly.

3 Lay down double-sided carpet tape along the three edges of the hole that don’t have tacks.

4 Starting at the taped edges, press the carpet down tightly. Tuck the remaining edge under the baseboard, where the tacks will grab hold.

Fireproof your dryer
Lint balls in dryer vents cause more than 15,000 fires each year, according to FEMA. Once a year, pull the exhaust hose from the back of the dryer and your outside vent. Reach inside the dryer, hose, and vent to extract the big clumps of dust, and use a vacuum cleaner to suck up the rest.

Find every stud
Most newer homes are built with studs 16 inches apart on exterior walls, and 20 inches apart on interior walls. So, starting at the corner of two walls, place a pencil mark every 16 or 20 inches across the wall—test the first one by hammering a small nail into the spot, just to be sure.

Replace a cracked tile
1 Place strips of masking tape along the edges of surrounding tiles to keep them from chipping.

2 Scrape away the grout from around the broken tile.

3 Crack the broken tile into pieces with a small hammer. Once shattered, the tile should come loose from the glue holding it down. Scrape the remaining adhesive (it’s actually called “thinset”) from the surface with a putty knife.

4 Apply a coat of new thinset with a grooved trowel. “Grooves keep the adhesive at an even thickness, which helps the tile sit flat,” says Carter Oosterhouse, a professional handyman and the host of HGTV’s Carter Can. Press the tile into place, using plastic spacers around the edges
to ensure it’s perfectly aligned. Let it sit overnight.

5 Remove the spacers and use a “float,” or rubber trowel, to apply premixed grout around the edges. Don’t worry about being neat—the grout won’t bond to the tile. Wipe off the excess and repeat until the gaps are filled. Let the tile dry for 4 hours before stepping on it or getting it wet.

Remove the base of a smashed lightbulb
Make sure the lamp is unplugged or, if it’s hardwired, flip off the circuit breaker. Clean off the bigger shards from the base, then press the cut side of a half potato down on it. Turn counterclockwise.

Break into your house
Slide the corner of your driver’s license between the door and the jamb, pressing the edge down on the latch. While maintaining downward pressure, quickly shake the door back and forth until the card forces the latch into the door. If it doesn’t work, congratulations: Your home is protected by a well-made doorknob. Now call a locksmith.

Replace a window screen
All you’ll need is a replacement screen and a length of rubber seal. “Make sure you pick up a seal that’s the same diameter as what’s already in the screen,” says Oosterhouse.

1 Gently pry out the old seals and measure the size of the old screen.

2 Cut a new screen that’s around 10 percent bigger than the old one. Lay it square over the frame.

3 Press the new seal into the grooves in the frame. Proceed slowly along the grooves with a flat-head screwdriver so you don’t rip the screen.

4 When you’ve finished the perimeter, trim excess screen material with scissors and pop the frame back into the window.

From Men's Health:

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Deism: The Fastest Growing Belief in America

"Deism is the recognition of a universal creative force greater than that demonstrated by mankind, supported by personal observation of laws and designs in nature and the universe, perpetuated and validated by the innate ability of human reason coupled with the rejection of claims made by individuals and organized religions of having received special divine revelation."

Sunday, January 13, 2008