Home Improvement: Do it yourself but keep it safe

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By Art Tibaldo

Consumer Atbp.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

USE the right tools for their specific purpose. That's the advice and universal rule that constantly reminds me of a hard lesson I learned as a homemaker. I have practically used all kinds of carpentry tools and gadgets that you can find from a superstore hardware like a hammer, a planer, a jigsaw, a drill, arc welding machine and the only tool that I haven't tried in as far as home project is concerned is an acetylene cutting torch. My first lesson was the wrong use of a circular saw. Instead of working with the wood facing down clamped to a working table, I clamped the motorized saw and passed a piece of wood over its rotating blade and a regretful incident happened when the sharp disc did not only split the wood unevenly, but it also cut the tip if my left thumb reducing it by half inch.

Having sculpted a statue of St. Joseph when I was still single and fresh from college, I convinced myself that the patron of carpenters would guide me all the way but I guess it was a wrong move on my part to be working on the day Jesus was born. On December 25 last year, I accidentally hammered my thumb when I was working on a shelf for my mini library. Now, both my thumbs show signs of abuse. The impact would have been reduced had I put on a glove or used a nail holder before driving it on the wood. Carpentry is one task that I enjoy doing on weekends and during breaks and I continuously learn one or two lessons from every project.

Here are some tips on woodworking and home renovation Tips from Karl Champley, co-host of DIY to the Rescue; When painting a surface that needs to be primed, tint the primer to match the finish coat, reducing your painting project from three coats to two. Sand the face of the hammer head with sandpaper to help the hammer grip the nail and prevent the nail head from slipping. Wrap paint rollers and brushes in a plastic bag between coats to keep them full of paint and prevent them from drying out. Don't try to work with electrical or plumbing projects you are not confident about. It often costs more to repair later and can be dangerous. When drilling though ceramic tile or natural stone, place masking tape on the surface. This makes marking the tile easier and helps the drill bit stay in one place.


Be sure to have a First Aid kit and fire extinguishers handy at all times. You should only plug power tools and high wattage consuming electrical devices from convenience outlets that are meant for it. One thing that every head or at least one member of the family should know is how to use an electrical tester or similar devices that are meant to check whether a line connection is alive or dead. In the absence of testing devices, one can actually use any appliance like a handy electric fan or to check

I prefer having circuit breakers than the older fuse boxes. A circuit breaker is designed to protect an electrical circuit from damage caused by overload or short circuit. Its basic function is to discontinue electrical flow when a fault condition or a surge is detected. Unlike the replaceable fuse which operates only once, a circuit breaker can be reset either manually or automatically to resume normal operation.

Other than the things I already mentioned, it is also wise to have a tool cabinet or a secured place to store all working tools and gardening sets. It is likewise worth investing to have safety gadgets such as clear & welding goggles, ear plugs and protective helmet. There were times when my toes and feet were hit by falling devices and I regretted not wearing shoes. Steel toed working shoes, leather gloves and matching coverall suit are ideal outfit when working on home projects. When using non steel toed shoes, you can pad your toes with thick socks for impact protection. You can improvise a ladder for elevated home projects but it is always best to use a prescribed harness when working on areas requiring you to climb and work on suspension.

It is also a must to keep ropes handy at home. I have a nylon type of rope for general purpose and another for personal use like the more expensive ropes used by mountain climbers. Tying a knot is something that must also be learned when securing two things temporarily. The basic square knot locked by a figure of eight on the loose end should be able to secure a temporary bond. When clamping and fixing things like wall mount and tiles, it is also important to know the right types of glue and cement. Rubber cements, wood glue and some epoxy can be used for interior fixtures but certainly not for projects that will be subjected to rains, sunlight and all the outside elements.

Though I do not claim any expertise in this field other than being a constant observer of trends, styles, home remedies and new innovations, I cannot forget what I learned from a structural engineer who said that the strength of a structure depends on its weakest link. This is the very reason why whenever I connect pieces of metal with the arc welder, I always pound on the connecting spot including both sides with a hammer to check and ensure that the metals are fully bonded and secured.


Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on February 12, 2013.


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