Posts Tagged With: do-it-yourselfer

Spring Refresh DIY Idea #2 – Building a Backyard Playset

How to Build a PlaysetWhen you think back on your childhood, you may recall playing on a rusty old metal swing set with hard plastic seats. Remember how the whole thing threatened to flip over if you swung too high? The backyard play sets of today are a far cry from those rickety contraptions. Now kids have their choice of towers and forts in addition to swings and slides. What about a rock climbing wall?! We have the technology. The choices are endless … and the cost can run in the thousands of dollars. So what’s a parent to do? Here are a few things to consider in your quest to build a better playset.

Shop Smart

Before you start shopping stores or the internet for a playset to assemble, consider this:

  • Know your audience – What’s the age of the child you are building the playset for? What interests a toddler is less engaging for a 10-year-old. Look for a playset that can be reconfigured as your child grows up. Some sets will have features that can be removed and replaced with more age appropriate ones using very little additional construction.
  • It’s going to be how big? – Determine the size of the area where you want to put the playset. It will help to narrow down the choices in design plans. Consider placing the structure off to one side of the yard rather than in the middle. That gives the kids an open space where they can play football and other games. Besides, you don’t want to step out you back door and onto the jungle gym.
  • Avoid any trips to the ER – Know the weight limit of the playset you select. If you expect a neighborhood of kids to be on it at one time then spend the money for the highest rated play set. Accidents will happen so cushion their falls with a protective surface like bark or rubberized mulch. Spread it in a dense layer and extend it around all sides of the structure. Make sure all platforms and ramps have guard rails.
  • Can I mortgage that playset? – Focus on the quality of the building materials and the inclusive safeguards more than the elaborate play features. A playset made from good hard wood like cedar or redwood is the preferred choice of most professional playset builders. Sure, you will have to clean and paint it, but if properly maintained, a set built out of this kind of wood could last 7-10 years. Pressure treated lumber is less expensive but it has been created using chemicals that you don’t want to expose your children to. Manufacturers say the toxicity levels are low but ultimately it is your call as a parent on whether the risk is worth it.
  • Stick with the classics – Forget all the fancy construction plans. Swings and slides will always be in fashion. Elaborate features like rock climbing walls or trapezes only add to the cost of the project. Remember these are the same kids that happily played with your pots and pans just a few years ago. That swinging pirate ship may fall out of fashion with them in a heartbeat, and if isn’t not easy to remove, you’re stuck with it marooned in your backyard.

A Family Project

No one knows your kids the way you do. Select the type playset that will make them want to put down the smart phone, remote or other device and run out to play on it. Make building it a family project. Even young children can hand you a hammer or help spread mulch. It is all about creating memories of childhood days spent playing with friends on a backyard playset – one they’ll remember was built just for them by you. Priceless.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your backyard projects. From circular saws and nailers/staplers to pressure washers and mulch, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Spring Refresh DIY Idea #1 – Building a Better Chicken Coop

How to Build a Chicken Coop

More and more people want to raise chickens. This trend isn’t just in rural areas but in urban ones, too. Folks want to get back to a more organic way of living and eating. If you are a would-be chicken farmer, then it’s time to get your ducks (or dare we say chickens) in a row. Your first big task is to build a chicken coop.

The Scoop on Coops

You need to ask yourself a few key questions upfront to help you refine your game plan:

  • How many chickens do you want to keep? This will determine the size of your coop. A flock of at least three hens would need a 4×8 foot screened-in run as well as a 4×4 foot critter-proofed coop where hens can lay eggs.
  • Do you know where you’ll build or place your coop? You need to place it in an area where it will have adequate shade during the hot summer months and ample sunlight during the cold winter months. Near a tree that drops its leaves in fall is perfect.
  • Do you want to build a coop from scratch or do you want to repurpose an existing building? Recycling an existing structure will save you money but it will still need to be altered to meet the needs of the flock. If you build one from scratch, you may want to purchase detailed chicken coop design plans that will take you through the project step by step. There are plenty of “free” plans out there; just remember – you get what you pay for!

Now that you have determined the size, placement and construction design of your coop, you are ready to begin. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

  • Raise it up – Make sure the floors of the nesting area are raised to help keep chicken feet dry during rainy weather. Galoshes are not an option for these “kids.”
  • Let there be light – Egg production is affected by the amount of light the flock is exposed to. This is why production is down during winter months. To counter this, install a light inside the coop. Use a warm light source and not a blue/white one.
  • Feather that nest – Give the flock warm places to nest. One idea is to use a plastic storage bin with the lid on it. Cut a hole in one end for the chicken to enter through and a second hole on the back so you can reach in for the eggs. Be sure to line the inside of the bin with hay for warmth. The plastic bin makes it easy to pull the nest out, clean it and return it back to the coop.
  • Keep the critters out – Raccoons and other predators are smart so protect your flock with metal latches that cannot be easily opened. Be sure to lock your coop up at night to keep them safe.
  • Free to roam (sort of) – Yes, you want chickens to have ample room to roam but you can’t watch over them all the time. Building a screened in run will keep them safe and provide you with peace of mind.
  • Can we vent? – Good air circulation is essential to keeping your flock in robust health. Place screened in gaps between the walls and the roof to allow heat to escape and air to enter without causing drafts.
  • You have to use the coop, too – Sure, the ladies are a little on the short side, but unless you want to crawl on your hands and knees to retrieve their eggs, you might want to consider your comfort in the design of the building. You will be entering it frequently to feed, water and clean.
  • Let’s decorate this hen house – You will be looking at this chicken coop for a long time so you might as well make it look nice. Consider painting the outside or adding hanging plants. Let your imagination run wild.

Once you are finished with your incredible chicken coop sit back and relax. Bask in the knowledge that your chickens are happy and living in a condo creation that you built. Just ignore the ugly stares you may be attracting are from your dog! (Note to self – next project: new dog house).

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your DIY yard projects. From circular saws to nailers and staplers, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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How to Cut Tile for Do-It-Yourself Tiling Jobs

Perfecting the art of cutting tile is essential for any self-respecting do-it-yourselfer. You may want to tile a floor, a shower, a backsplash or an accent for any room in your home. Chances are, you’ll be cutting tile to fit around the room, to accommodate the faucet or cabinets and to customize a personal creation. We’ll discuss how to cut tile using a tile cutter and a tile saw.

Tools of the Trade: Tile Cutter versus Tile Saw

Tile Cutter vs. Tile Saw

Other tips:

  • A tile cutter needs to be wider than the tiles. Measure the size based on making a diagonal cut from corner to corner.
  • Make sure the tile cutter has a rotating guide for making cuts at different angles.
  • Always fill a tile saw reservoir with water before cutting

Cutting Tile

  1. Practice cuts using scrap tiles first.
  2. Buy enough tile to accommodate waste, whether you’re using a tile cutter or saw.
  3. Mark the glazed tile surface using a pencil, making a tick where a cut begins and ends. Adjust the guide on a tile saw for the correct measurement.
  4. Slide the lever on the tile cutter so the blade is closest to you. Place the tile glaze side up on the cutter or the saw, making sure the tile sits snug against the stop or guide.
  5. Score a tile by moving the cutter lever so the steel wheel is on the tick mark at the edge of the tile, then pushing down on the lever and dragging the wheel across the tile with even pressure. Then push down on the lever and apply pressure to both sides of the score line, and snap the tile in two.
  6. For a saw cut, turn the saw on, move the tile gently into the blade and let the blade to all the work cutting the tile.
  7. For L-shaped notches, use a tile cutter to score both sides of the tile, and tile nippers to snap along one of the lines and hope the piece breaks cleanly along the second line. If not, that’s why you’ll have more tile than you need, for mistakes.

Finishing the Cut

Use a sharpening stone to smooth out the cut edge of a tile, unless it will be hidden under molding.

To learn more about the aesthetics of installing tile, read our two blogs: Install a Tile Backsplash in Your Kitchen for a Fresh New Look and The 4 Secrets to Beautiful Tile Accents in Your Home.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with renovating your bathroom or kitchen. From tile cutters to tile saws, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

Categories: Choosing Equipment, DIY Projects, Featured Products, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

2 Quick and Easy In-Home Plumbing Repairs

There’s no better time than the New Year to make your home improvement dreams come true, especially for do-it-yourself homeowners. Not all improvement projects cater to your creativity, though. Consider a leaky faucet or a stopped-up toilet. These kinds of home repairs are not only necessary, but also nice to take care of, finally. So roll up your sleeves and find out how you can complete home maintenance and repairs yourself…and become a DIY star!

1. Fix a Leaky Faucet

It’s one of the most common household repairs, one that can save you money on utility bills and help you avoid wasting water. Most of the time, a leak starts because the washer has deteriorated.

What to Do:

  • Leaky FaucetShut off the water to the faucet by turning off the stop valves under the sink
  • Locate the screw that holds the faucet handle in place (back or side, under a metal or plastic cap)
  • Unscrew the handle with a screwdriver and remove it
  • Remove the packing nut with pliers
  • Unscrew the valve stem and remove it from the housing
  • Take out the screw that holds the washer in place
  • Remove the washer and examine it
    • Use the washer to help you locate a replacement, if it’s still intact
    • If the washer falls apart, check the valve-body for the washer size
    • Buy a replacement washer at your home improvement store or plumbing supplier
    • Install a new washer and reverse these steps to re-assemble the faucet

2. Fix a Stopped-Up Toilet

When a toilet backs up, the entire family can get stressed, but don’t panic! First, investigate what’s causing the clog. Chances are, some foreign object is stuck in the bowl. However, you have a couple options for unclogging the toilet.

The Easy Method:

  • Unclog Your ToiletPut on a pair of rubber gloves and try fishing the object out of the bowl with your hands
  • Wait for the extra water to drain, then pour a bucket of water into the bowl (this can dislodge whatever is causing the blockage)
  • Try using a plunger to clear the toilet
  • A plumbing snake or closet auger dislodges clogs by threading a coiled length of metal from the bowl down through the serpentine piping to free what’s trapped there
  • Another option is a compressed air or carbon dioxide sewer air cleaner, which uses stronger pressure than a standard plunger to suction out anything trapped in the piping

If all else fails, you can uninstall the toilet and get to a clog that way. Most toilets are relatively easy to remove from the floor.

A Little Extra Elbow Grease Required:

  • Toilets are heavy, so find a helper
  • Unbolt the tank from the bowl
  • Undo the bolts that attach the bowl to the floor and remove the wax collar
  • Remove the caulk around the base, use a sealant saw if needed
  • Carefully place the toilet onto a plastic tarp with cushioning underneath, to avoid cracking the toilet
  • Cover the drain opening to keep gas from escaping into the room
  • Upend the toilet and find that clog
  • Replace the wax collar before reinstalling the toilet and re-caulk

In the winter months it is especially important that your plumbing works properly, what with the chance of pipes freezing. So, fix your leaky faucet or clogged toilet now, before you have a bigger mess on your hands. These may not be the most glamorous fix-ups, but you’ll be happy after you take the time. Let us know if you have more questions about these issues, especially in regards to the tools you’ll need. Happy amateur plumbing!

About the Author

Jack Runyon is the president of Runyon Equipment Rental. He has 21 years of rental experience, as the 3rd generation son to carry on the family tradition and his grandfather’s vision. He prides the company for its devotion to ethics, quality products and customer service. Jack is known for his passion and vast expertise.

Categories: Choosing Equipment, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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