all 166 comments

[–]PopCultureJunkiee 49 points50 points  (13 children)

Hey Travis! I'm a sort of new homeowner (I've been in my first home for 2.5 years). I often feel overwhelmed by the amount of work I'd like to do and how much it could cost. What's your advice for tackling certain projects and how to spend properly?

[–]TravisFamilyHandyman[S] 97 points98 points  (11 children)

Are ya redoing the entire house??? If you’re a newbie, a bedroom would be a nice simple place to hone your skills. Don’t do the entire house at once because of the disruption. Even if it’s a single room, work from the top down. When I remodel a room, I start by ripping out all the carpet and trim, If there’s popcorn ceilings I scrape that away and repair any damage to the drywall up there and on the walls. Then I have a guy come in and do a knockdown texture on the ceilings and then I paint everything. Then I retrim the whole room and have the carpet guy come in. This first project will give you confidence and the sense that the whole house project won’t take forever after all. As you accumulate skills, tools and build relationships with subs you can trust, the rest of the house won’t seem so unachievable.

[–]_BindersFullOfWomen_ 5 points6 points  (9 children)

Is there a tool you could recommend to make removing a popcorn ceiling not a giant mess? Preferably one that’ll also allow you to leave furniture and stuff in the room.

[–]elcapitanawesome 39 points40 points  (7 children)

[–]_BindersFullOfWomen_ 5 points6 points  (0 children)

That is very helpful, thank you much.

[–]Armantes 2 points3 points  (4 children)

Goddamn DaVinci. I love when a solution is so stupid easy. I feel a lot better about tackling my 3 bedrooms now.

[–]Letmefixthatforyouyo 9 points10 points  (3 children)

Probably still a good idea to wear a ventilator when doing it. Some of that popcorn is asbestos.

[–]fiendo13 8 points9 points  (1 child)

Good call. Asbestos was banned in popcorn ceilings in 1977 but a lot of houses were built before that! If your house is older, and you are removing it anyway, make sure you wear that mask, and wet down the ceiling a lot because it will help stop the asbestos fibers from becoming airborne. TBH I'd get a professional if it is asbestos though. You can wet down a small spot, scrape it into a container, and mail it to a testing lab though before you start to be safe.

[–][deleted] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I believe the sale of asbestos was banned in '77, but builders stocked up and could have been using it until the '80s. Get it tested, it's like $50 a sample.

[–]Armantes 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Absolutely. My house was built in the 60s, not sure if they're original or not, but that was my first thought seeing the guy in the video not wearing one.

[–]such-a-mensch 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Be careful with popcorn ceilings from the 60s and 70s due to the asbestos that can often be found in it.

It's a cheap test.

[–]Beelzeboz0 1 point2 points  (0 children)

This is amazing advice. I wish someone had told me this 8yrs who when I started redoing my entire 1st home. I ended up paying a guy to come back and do a knockdown texture on all my drywall after I had completed several walls. I've learned taping and mudding isn't as easy as the YouTube videos if you want professional results.

[–]el_smurfo 0 points1 point  (0 children)

My mentality for DIY projects is not to get too mired down and overwhelmed. There's always a little something you can do to move the project forward. Pretty soon, these little bits build up to the bigger tasks and you are more confident and ready to proceed.

[–]AMBITI0USbutRUBBISH 174 points175 points  (34 children)

Hey Travis. I subscribed to a year of your magazine assuming it would be chock full of good content. While the content is good it is very scant compared to the advertisements. The magazine is some times at least 60% ads and I was wondering if there were plans to up the content and reduce the ad space?

[–]DrunkMc 58 points59 points  (5 children)

Sad he didn't address this, its what I've seen too. I've also noticed they started framing ads as if they're articles. I usually see 1 maybe 2 good articles per issue now.

[–]raisedgrooves 5 points6 points  (0 children)

I felt the same way.

[–]oLD_Captain_Cat 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Aw man same in Australia where the chintzy Chinese toy tools are reviewed in the magazine by the box box store who gets to has its logo two or three times on every page.

[–]Stengord 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Where else are you gonna get a sliding compound mitre saw and a snag sanga for under $200

[–]Wafflequest33 11 points12 points  (3 children)

I subscribed for years and noticed the content repeats itself constantly.

[–]damn_this_is_hard 6 points7 points  (2 children)

i mean there are only so many ways to DIY install stuff....

[–]Wafflequest33 4 points5 points  (1 child)

Right, but it's like, October and we are "redoing a bathroom in a weekend" and then in April it's "turn that old bathroom into a new gem in just 2 days"

[–]damn_this_is_hard 3 points4 points  (0 children)

lowe's the only one aint mad at this man

[–]Aerocat08 18 points19 points  (5 children)

Totally agree. I didn't renew because of that.

[–]CoolioDaggett 12 points13 points  (2 children)

Same. They have some good content, just not enough of it to justify renewing.

[–]fiendo13 9 points10 points  (1 child)

I mean, it's only 7 bucks a year. Most of it is free online anyway too.

[–]Thoreau80 8 points9 points  (0 children)

I used to love the magazine and still have lots of them saved. Then the format changed to massive advertising and tiny little blurbs rather than full articles.

For me, it no longer is worth even $7. I used to be willing to pay significantly more than that.

[–]OBS_W 5 points6 points  (1 child)

Do you recommend and alternatives?

I'm basically a slightly experienced beginner.

[–]happyrock 10 points11 points  (0 children)

Fine homebuilding. It's not perfect but a far sight from the hot glue DIY that family handyman is trending towards

[–]Jardun 22 points23 points  (7 children)

Welcome to print publications in modern times. The truth when it comes to print magazines (and many other mediums such as radio and tv) these days is that your subscription doesn't keep that magazine in print, the ads do. Without advertisers many magazines would fold their print production and be online only, or more likely they would go out of business completely. Subscribers help, clearly, but high subscriber numbers really just means they can charge more for their ad space in the long run.

If you don't want to see ads, I think thats reasonable and admirable, but many small publications like this couldn't keep up with content creation and management of even just a website without advertisers to help pay the way.

[–]gregtx 5 points6 points  (0 children)

I’d be ok with the ads IF the ads provided some actual useful content. A DIY rag is meant to teach the reader how to do something. You’re doing product placement, sure, but help me solve a problem in the process. Show me how to use your product or solve a common issue that may arise related to the type of product you have. Example: you are advertising toilets. Show me how to fix a broken toilet ring in the floor, and then I’m cool with you showing off your product in the process. Heck, join forces with another manufacturer or two to show how this specific tool may help, or this plumbing fitting is super useful too. Now you’re providing value, not just stuffing pages with fluffy crap.

[–]THATASSH0LE 4 points5 points  (0 children)

I cancelled my subscription for the same reason. It was basically a pamphlet

[–]13assman 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I cancelled and simply read through local library eSubscription with RBDigital =) free, good reader and access to any issue without killing trees.

[–]bicho6 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Their online presence is virtually unusable on mobile too.

[–]bicho6 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Their online presence is virtually unusable on mobile too.

[–]el_smurfo 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I receive about a half dozen magazines a month. I've never paid for any of them but there are so many free subscriptions out there because it's really the ads that pay the bills and the more they can ship, the more eyeballs they can sell.

[–]damn_this_is_hard -1 points0 points  (0 children)

is this your first time ever reading a magazine? they are all always ads. magazines exist for the purpose of ad sales in most cases

[–]Clattu 13 points14 points  (4 children)

Hello Travis. I am renovating a house with asbestos siding. Is it safe to leave this on and place new vinyl siding over the asbestos? If so, what is the safest way to accomplish this?

[–]argumentinvalid 13 points14 points  (0 children)

The general rule with asbestos is undisturbed it is fine and harmless. Once you start cutting it up or doing anything that will get particles into the air it is an issue. The two options for asbestos are essentially encase it (cover and leave) or to remove and dispose (at a landfill that will take asbestos), check local codes on removal. Personally I would remove it, I'm not a fan of layering over old materials on the exterior because of the increased potential to trap moisture and cause issues. The good news is the removal is quite a bit easier because it is outdoors and therefore safer then interior removal.

The short answer, yes it is safe to leave it, but personally if I'm going through the expense of residing my house entirely I would remove it. I'm a residential architect that deals with mostly remodels and we come across asbestos on well over half of our projects.

[–]TravisFamilyHandyman[S] 9 points10 points  (1 child)

I think that’s fine-safety wise to leave it in place. Just don’t know if it’s possible to anchor vinyl over it. Gotta find studs and don’t know how hard it is to drive nails through it. If you’re hiring it done, the vinyl installers should know. I’m really not an expert on asbestos issues as far as removal goes. Maybe talk to your building inspector for guidance.

[–]such-a-mensch 1 point2 points  (0 children)

In many areas, asbestos siding isn't considered friable until you take power tools to it. I've removed it from many houses by hand. Still bag and bury though. Check your local regs.

[–]CRoswell 11 points12 points  (7 children)

I made the folding miter saw table with a few modifications, and it has been great for my small garage, as I can also wheel it outside easily on nice days.

What is your favorite project on TFH?

[–]TravisFamilyHandyman[S] 10 points11 points  (1 child)

[–]CRoswell 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Already have the issue, just haven't read it yet. (Busy tearing off and putting up a new 12x20 deck for the last week or so.) Will definitely take a look, that could be a great option to put near the hot tub for a privacy fence and some fun plants.

[–]TravisFamilyHandyman[S] 7 points8 points  (1 child)

There are so many. Like the “Living Wall” that was just on the cover recently. Simple project, pretty, automatic privacy.

[–]Vaquera 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I’m a subscriber, LOVE this project. Trying to figure out where I can put one at my house.

[–]Im_A_Viking 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Can you link to the plans or share some images of it? While I have a folding miter stand, I find that for any long cuts it's a pain in the ass to get the wings level.

[–]nolive27 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Can we see it?

[–]AndThatsHowUGetAnts 9 points10 points  (4 children)

Hi Travis! We're creating a path in our front yard with stepping stones, river rocks, and edgers (kinda like this one but straight http://cdn.gardenloversclub.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/garden-path-stepping-stones-01.jpg). Our stepping stones aren't very thick though. The path is currently dug out and we're figuring out next steps. So we're thinking next is to put down a layer of sand for leveling, then edgers and stepping stones, then fill in with the river rocks. Problem is, how do we make sure we have enough river rocks down so that the sand doesn't show through while also making sure the river rocks don't end up higher (thicker) than the stepping stones?

[–]tjdux 5 points6 points  (0 children)

They make a special sand for paver stones that has a bit of cement in it. I cannot remember the exact name but its sold at big box stores.

One thing to remember is that paver stones can sink over time so be sure to tamp your soil very well if you want it to last. It may be in your best interest to rent a vibrator compactor for a day. Most serious tool rental places will have one and its totally worth it.

Also look up samurai carpenter on youtube and watch his video(s) on building his paver stone patio. Really good quality build info thats related to exactly what you wanna do.

Sorry im on mobile or i would find you a link.

[–]TravisFamilyHandyman[S] 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Just test it I guess. Make yourself a little test plot, cover it with the stone and see what you think!

[–]tlow13 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Thanks for posting this. My wife and I have been looking for inspiration for a backyard path and I have to say that what you posted is probably the one I like the best from what I've seen in the past few weeks of casual googling.

[–]AndThatsHowUGetAnts 0 points1 point  (0 children)

You're welcome. We ended up going with a straight path since it's in the front to the door for us but with natural/rounded stones. This pic was my favorite after weeks of Googling too. Best of luck!

[–]HareuhalPM me penguin pics[M] [score hidden] stickied comment (0 children)

The AMA has officially ended. Thanks a bunch to Travis for donating some of his time and answering a bunch of great questions!

Edit: Travis may be back later today to answer more questions. We don't have a confirmation on that yet however keep your eyes peeled!

[–]Chickens1 8 points9 points  (1 child)

How often do you feel it's safe to re-visit a topic. I've noticed nearly identical articles several years apart. Still like the mag.

[–]TravisFamilyHandyman[S] 10 points11 points  (0 children)

Five years or so. Topics are finite of course so we try to put a new angle on ones we've already done in the past. Try to introduce new info or perspective to keep it interesting for long term subscribers. The goal is to always some new info for everyone.

[–]noidontwantto 13 points14 points  (10 children)

Do you recommend any books or other resourcrs for a would be DIYer who is afraid to do anything out of a fear of making the problem worse?

[–]TravisFamilyHandyman[S] 19 points20 points  (9 children)

YouTube! Watch lots of them cuz there’s SO many erroneous videos out there. But your bound to find what you need. Our website (familyhandyman.com also has lots of videos and stories on just about anything you want to tackle. When I need to make a video, I go to youtube just to see what others have done. Not surprisingly, many are badly filmed, but that doesn’t matter if the content is good.

[–]ellebelle2482 5 points6 points  (2 children)

Hey Travis! I have a sink question, too. Our kitchen sink is one of those big sink/counter/cabinet units from the 1940s. All the polish has worn off, so it gets stained at the drop of a hat. Can a DIY dabbler like me restore it? What products do you recommend? Thank you!

[–]Mego1989 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Rustoleums two part epoxy tub and tile refinishing kits work pretty well for those sinks. I recommend using mats in the bottom of the sink afterwards to protect the finish and you'll only have to touch it up every few years. If you don't love the style of sink, just replace it, but personally I love having the giant drain boards.

[–]TravisFamilyHandyman[S] 5 points6 points  (0 children)

I don’t think any of those restoration products will stand the test of time. You can buy a decent sink for a couple of hundred dollars and it won’t take more than a couple of hours to replace the old one with a new one.

[–]BlueYetti13 5 points6 points  (5 children)

Hey Travis. Thanks for doing the AMA. I've got a couple of questions.

What's the one tool you can't live without?

Some others have touched on this, but not quite. I don't necessarily get overwhelmed by the size or cost of projects, I just can't always find time to get going on them. I usually can't find a 4 hour chunk of time during the week to work on something, but I can usually find an hour or two after dinner during the week. How do you split your time on your non-work projects? Any tips for getting organized so I can just jump right in instead of wandering around the wood shop (garage) trying to remember what I was doing next? One of the biggest annoyances is the cleanup (especially after only cutting/drilling for an hour). Any tips for wood shop cleanliness?

Bonus: Can you post a pic of your wood shop?

[–]TravisFamilyHandyman[S] 12 points13 points  (4 children)

Need em all. If you're starting out, first get a cordless impact driver and drill. My shop used to be a pit. Then I worked for a few days in an organized neat shop and got religion. Went home, built custom cabinets specifically designed for every single tool and supply. Installed a whole shop dust collection system. Now I know where everything goes and put everything in its place after it's used. It's so easy to run a tight ship if the ship is set up to begin with! Can't find a picture at the moment will look when I get a minute.

[–]mikeTRON250LM 3 points4 points  (0 children)

<waiting on picture>

[–]Thoreau80 1 point2 points  (2 children)

Please describe your whole shop dust collection system.

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

If you don't know what one is, this is a great overview/example.

If you just wanted to know more about his specifically, then I apologize for butting in. :-)

[–]TravisFamilyHandyman[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Pretty simple. I use a single stage 240-volt dust collector.After doing some research I discovered that the CFM of the collector wasn't high enough to justify the expense of spiral tubing. Ordinary 8-in. round duct work would stand up without collapsing. That saved a ton of money. I also spent the money on a remote starter. Whenever I start a machine, I just open up the blast gate, turn on the collector and I'm ready to go. The only tool it doesn't deal well with is the jointer. It's not powerful enough to suck up the relatively heavy chips.

[–]uUpSpEeRrNcAaMsEe 3 points4 points  (5 children)

Hey Travis. Thanks for being readily available to ask you stuff!

I was wondering if you knew of a website or a guide that lists job pricing for all the various types of jobs that are out there involving using different kinds of contractors. As in, how would they charge for specific jobs (roofing, laying carpet/ wood flooring, small carpentry issues: installing chair/ crown molding, etc.), and how much is a good/ fair price to pay? Does such a site exist?

[–]TravisFamilyHandyman[S] 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Nope! Not that I'm aware of.

[–]tlow13 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Have you tried using thumbtack.com? I have used the site to get pricing from contractors in my area for stump removal, gutter installation, interior painting, and hot water heater installation. You can get quotes for pretty much any project you can imagine, those are just the ones I have used it for.

The more pictures you upload, and the better you describe your project the more likely you are to get accurate quotes. Sometimes when I have posted a project, I have not been detailed enough so all of the responses I get from contractors are "I can't give you a specific quote for this project, but I can come by to inspect it in person and then give you a quote."

Anyway I hope that makes sense, let me know if you have any questions, or if what I recommended is not at all what you are looking for.

[–]IPingFreely 1 point2 points  (0 children)

The Book on Estimating Rehab Costs: The Investor's Guide to Defining Your Renovation Plan, Building Your Budget, and Knowing Exactly How Much It All Costs https://www.amazon.com/dp/1947200127/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_TQqrBbAP7Y6VE

[–]lolmeansilaughed 1 point2 points  (0 children)

If you Google the cost of pretty much any home improvement project (search "<project name> cost"), you'll find links to a few different sites where they give you cost estimates, like:






[–]Mego1989 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Homewyse has a calculator for most types of projects where you enter your zip code and square footage and it gives you a range of costs and a breakdown.

[–]Memckimmy 8 points9 points  (3 children)

Travis I just wanted to say I'm a big fan of your projects in the family handyman. I'm in the process of rebuilding my deck and have been referring to your "tips for how to build a deck" article quite a bit.

What are your feeling on a floating deck verse using a ledger board?

[–]TravisFamilyHandyman[S] 13 points14 points  (1 child)

Your building inspector should be consulted. Local codes may not allow a floating deck being built right next to the house. If a deck IS attached to the house via ledger, it needs to have footings that go down to frost. Otherwise the deck will heave in cold climates while the house stays put. Guess I'm a fan of real footings and ledgers. Seems more permanent and stable. Although I have done floating decks out in the yard from time to time.

[–]Memckimmy 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Thanks. I appreciate it

[–]Clumsy_triathlete 3 points4 points  (3 children)

Hi, i was on your site yesterday looking at plans on how to make a work bench. I want to do it but scared of the cutting involved on the plywood. What can you advise to someone like me who has no issues on the assembly but a horrible cutter. Is there certain things I can do to practice without risking limbs and digits. Thank you

[–]TravisFamilyHandyman[S] 6 points7 points  (1 child)

If you're using a circular saw, I'd suggest building yourself a couple of jigs. One for crosscutting another for ripping. Of course you'll need to do a bit of cutting just to make them-without them to help. Got any woodworky friends that aren't askeert to help out with that task?

[–]TravisFamilyHandyman[S] 7 points8 points  (0 children)

It's been fun answering all your questions! Our web site is a great place to find out more. Just about any question you have-or any project you want to embark upon, you'll find a place to start. Not to mention dozens of videos to peruse. Good luck on all your DIY projects!

[–]EverTheOptimistPrime 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Hey Travis, what tools do you consider the most essential? And what tools would you get for someone on a budget? Recently, I moved into a new apartment and I'm looking to build out a basic toolset that would cover apartment maintenance that covers things like hanging paintings, placing shelves, fixing sinks or toilets, and replacing locks.

[–]TravisFamilyHandyman[S] 7 points8 points  (0 children)

As I said earlier, a cordless impact driver and drill are absolutely the place to start power tool wise.

Along with that, a drill index and complete set of driver accessories for the impact driver.

[–]kooshballcalculator 2 points3 points  (2 children)

Hey, and thanks! What’s your opinion on best bang for the buck on a 1940s era house with a struggling but newish AC unit?

Powered attic fan? More insulation? Radiant barrier? What about the return, it is in the floor, would it help to move it higher, like on a wall nearby?

[–]TravisFamilyHandyman[S] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

HVAC isn't one of my strengths. Assume you've been replacing filters regularly. Our research says that the cheaper filters, changed frequently are more likely to let air flow through. High MERV rated filters slow down air flow. Single most common house call for the pros!!! Secondly, are the fins outside on the compressor completely clean or covered with cottonwood fibers? Simple fix. Other than that, I don't feel qualified to give you any advice. I'd call in a pro.

Here is a link for cleaning cooling fins. https://www.familyhandyman.com/heating-cooling/air-conditioner-repair/clean-your-air-conditioner-condenser-unit/view-all/

Here is a link for learning about air filters: https://www.familyhandyman.com/heating-cooling/furnace-repair/the-best-furnace-filters-to-buy/view-all/

[–]skippingstone 1 point2 points  (0 children)

You need to air seal your house


Then add more insulation in attic and walls.

[–]natural_racehorses 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I decided to trim a room the right way and followed some of your videos about coping trim using the miter saw. The first few turned out great, but subsequent ones had larger and larger gaps. I measured the level and tilt if the miter blade but never could figure out where I was going wrong. Frustrating and expensive episode where I'm not sure I have learned how to cope even yet. Insert your quips about coping strategies below.

[–]Ben_Wojdyla 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I just want to say that as a former editor at Popular Mechanics I adore your magazine.

[–]bennitabenny 7 points8 points  (7 children)

Hi Travis! What should I do if the silicone around my sink is wearing off? As well as the silicone around my bathtub?

[–]TravisFamilyHandyman[S] 18 points19 points  (6 children)

You can scrape away the silicone with a razor scraper (time consuming drudgery). But it’s nearly impossible to get that tough stuff completely cleaned away. Better alternative? A caulk remover. Comes like a tube of toothpaste. Cover the old caulk, let it sit and then it’s easy to clean away. Might take a couple of applications but much easier and effective than scraping. McKanica is one brand that works. Not all caulk removers work on silicone. DON’T re-caulk with silicone. Use a tub and bath caulk.

Here’s a link to find some: https://www.amazon.com/SILICONE-CAULK-RMVR-MCKANICA-MfrPartNo/dp/B002YC84WS

[–]lifelovers 8 points9 points  (3 children)

Why not use silicone? I need to do some re-caulking this weekend and don’t know anything about the various caulk types.

[–]durtduhdurr 4 points5 points  (0 children)

We've got black caulk, white caulk, Spanish caulk, yellow caulk, hot caulk, cold caulk, wet caulk, smelly caulk, hairy caulk, bloody caulk, snapping caulk, silk caulk, velvet caulk, naugahyde caulk, horse caulk, dog caulk, chicken caulk. If we don't got it, you don't want it.

[–]TravisFamilyHandyman[S] 1 point2 points  (1 child)

We asked an expert from one of the larger caulking companies about that. His response? Cuz everyone's dad used it. There are specialty caulk for just about any task that are much better than silicon. Check out this link to one of our stories on caulk. We just did a nice informative story on choosing caulk in our July/August issue. Very helpful.

Here is a link to our sister site CPT with that story. https://www.constructionprotips.com/tools-materials/hands-on/best-caulk-for-kitchens-baths-gutters-and-more/1/

[–]lifelovers 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Thank you! And what a great guide that article provides!

[–]Mego1989 1 point2 points  (0 children)

3m brand works well, goo gone brand does not.

[–]Thoreau80 3 points4 points  (1 child)

I was a decade long subscriber and fan of the magazine. Then it changed format and reduced itself seemingly to those with ADHD, using tiny little blurb items consisting of nothing but a couple photos and a paragraph or two at most. Also, there was a huge uptick in advertisements.

You lost me as a subscriber. Is there any chance the mag ever will go back to the old more in-depth format?

[–]banksnld 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Having recently subscribed because of a deal - I have to say I wasn't impressed.

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Travis! What is your favourite type of pasta?

[–]TravisFamilyHandyman[S] 5 points6 points  (0 children)

Do potato or prune perogies count?

[–]Pleebius 1 point2 points  (0 children)

No question, just wanted to say your site is great and very informative. I've read countless articles from you guys while renovating a house in Minneapolis.

[–]upbeatchris 1 point2 points  (2 children)

I'm in the market for my first home (a duplex), what sort of costly repairs should I look out for?

[–]TravisFamilyHandyman[S] 4 points5 points  (1 child)

The biggies???



Water heater

Bad foundation

If you don't know much about houses, it's well worth hiring a home inspection service for a few hundred dollars to help track down major upcoming expenses.

[–]TLP_Prop_7 -1 points0 points  (0 children)

Can't agree that water heater counts as a biggie. Probably the cheapest large appliance (good ones are less than $500) and for anyone moderately handy can be installed in a few hours.

[–]Menegra 1 point2 points  (2 children)

Hi Travis! DIY question!

I'm remodelling an unlevel basement (like a 3 inch drop from one side to the other) that has no leaks. No cracking in the floor.

I'd like to build an insulated subfloor instead of pouring mountains of self-leveling cement down there. I live in Canada and it gets cold here.

My current plan is to put down 1 inch foam board with 1x6 sleepers every 16 inches on centre. I level these with crap load of shims and anchor them into the concrete with concrete screws. This makes a surface I can screw tongue and groove OSB to. And then some sort of flooring.

Height is not a problem! The 10ft ceilings in this basement are nice to work with.

How far apart should I space my anchor points on those sleepers? Any flaws you can see with this plan? Critiques are welcome from other users too.

[–]dodge_this 1 point2 points  (0 children)

If your putting carpet down there, a good quality pad with a mylar back helps really well with stopping cold air coming off the foundation.

[–]TravisFamilyHandyman[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I like your plan except for the 1x6 sleepers. Since you have so much head room, I'd put down treated 2x4s on edge, much stronger and able to span up to 6-ft. or more. Less shimming, easier to level, no flex. Plenty of meat for anchoring the OSB. You can put treated blocking right beside the 2x4 joists and anchor those into the concrete through the foam with concrete screws. Pile up as many as you need on top of the first one for anchoring the joists through the side.

[–]almondparfitt 1 point2 points  (1 child)

hi travis, do you have any recommendations for what to install for your shower if you live in an area with really hard water? i've researched a range of products that also have a range of prices... wondering if you have suggestions on what to focus on. thanks!

[–]TravisFamilyHandyman[S] 4 points5 points  (0 children)

I have hard water with lots of iron. I am on my third water softener in the last 38-years. Couldn't live without it. Even have a second one out in my shop.

[–]imdjay 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Love the mag, thanks for the great reads!

[–]justmedownsouth 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I have been reading The Family Handyman for many, many years. Way before a lot of people even knew about it. I have built many of your projects in my mind (haha), but never fail to glean at least one practical tip for fix its around the house. Thank you!

[–]bastion72 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Hi Travis

I have an outdoor patio with a gas fireplace. I've wanted to build a mantle over the fireplace to put some decorations.

How would I anchor the mantle over the fireplace to the brick wall? What kind of wood should I use? Do you have any recommendation on a "how to" since I'm new to woodworking?

Also, I've had my eye on building that workbench and will be making it eventually.

[–]Hagenaar 0 points1 point  (4 children)

Hi Travis! Your mention of geodesic domes made me think about complex cuts.
I have several of those carpenter squares with all the hip/val markings but don't know how to use them. I end up just doing trial and error.
Are there tricks or resources you could direct me towards to he!p with this?

[–]ABQJohn 2 points3 points  (2 children)

Lots of resources out there. The pic you linked is called a speed square as well...http://lmgtfy.com/?q=how+to+use+a+speed+squareYouTuber Bob Claggett of "I Like to Make Stuff" posted a quick video on it not too long ago - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FM6O3WK8FrU though his video talks about it from a Maker's perspective, not a carpenter...

[–]Hagenaar 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Hmm. Maybe I was misinformed. All he talks about there are simple angles and pitch measurements. Somehow I thought there was a way to use it for more complex calculations.

[–]ABQJohn 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Essential Craftsman also has a video on framing & speed squares - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1S4ZVHDc9A

[–]TravisFamilyHandyman[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Yep, I dealt with zillions of compound and straight angle cuts over the years. With domes, that happens lots more often than square cuts or simple 45's. I tried all kinds of gimmicky tools to measure then transfer angles. The only tool I'd usually use is a simple T-bevel to get close to the angle. Hold it up to a board, adjust the tongue, transfer the mark to a board and measure it with my speed square. But more often or not, I'd just take a guess at the angle and bevel make the cut on a test board and keep adjusting the saw until I got it right then make the cut on the real board. Always found that trial and error and testing was faster than trying to figure it out using angle finders and/or math.

[–]fauxtoe 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Hey Travis,

I’m looking to add a heater to my stand alone garage. I won’t be able to get the sub panel for a bit but wanted to run the wires to where it will be. How much extra wire should I leave at the sub panel area?

Also related, do I need 8/3 or 8/2 wire for a 240 35amp breaker for the plug that the heater will connect to?

[–]TravisFamilyHandyman[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Wire is pretty cheap, leave much more than you think you need.

[–]schuler_8 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I love your magazine! Please keep up on the plans in every issue. I cant wait told build the fire table when I have some down time.

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (1 child)

One part of my grandpa's floor in his cabin is rotted away. Do I need to take up the whole floor to fix it or just cut that section out and replace it?

[–]TravisFamilyHandyman[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Just the rotten part. But you never know about the framing below! You'll know once you see it. Then this little job can get big real fast. The important part is to figure out why it rotted and fix that at the same time.

[–]Ajh91481 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Great magazine. I look forward to going through it every month.

We are doing a kitchen remodel and have run in to an issue with an uneven floor. Above the hardwood is a layer of tile that based on age, size, etc I am assuming to be asbestos. As such we did not remove this and simply put thin sheets of plywood underpayment over it. The issue is not all of the tile we covered up is even. There is a low spot approx two feet square that is causing the floor to be uneven. I could have cured this by using thick plywood but didn’t think of it until it was too late (cabinets are in).

Any thoughts on evening out a single spot of flooring?


[–]TravisFamilyHandyman[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Floor leveler-it's fantastic

Here's a video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRqH0H-3ulA

[–]porkchop2022 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Hey Travis. Fan of the mag, but I’ve got a question that I haven’t been able answer for myself.

I have a large living room with pergo floor. Is there ANY good way to drop an electrical outlet in the center of the room inset to the floor? It’s a standard flooring and pad set on top of a concrete slab. Or is this a rip the flooring up and trench out the concrete kind of job?

[–]TravisFamilyHandyman[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Boy, not that I know of. In my shop I cut a slot in the concrete to run 240-volt to a table saw. Used a diamond blade, put the wired in plastic conduit and filled the hole with new concrete. Wasn't as bad as it sounds, but then I didn't have finished flooring.

[–]SavageVariant 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I'm going to need to become more familiar with your work...

New homeowner to be (in closing!)

House has some minor issues our inspection identified, but the major thing is that it was built in 1950, and with the sensibilities of the time. I'd like to add an ensuite bathroom/closet to the master bedroom to help bring things a bit more into this era.

Are there any common pitfalls that first time renovators should be looking for in this kind of undertaking?

[–]skintigh 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Have any tips or tricks on how to make a dozen copies of 3 different large corbels (3-5 inches wide, 3-4 inches thick, 6-12 tall) other than buying a huge bandsaw/scroll saw and spindle sander?

One of them I can copy on a router ~30 times then glue up to thickness. The other ones have fine details that can't be routed.

[–]Boothecus 0 points1 point  (0 children)

So what do you think of the whole permit/inspection affair? Too heavy-handed? Too light-touch? What's the worst homeowner attempt you've had to fix?

[–]KingPapaDaddy 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Is it even possible to do more issues on "storage"?

[–]grrlkitt 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I love the Family Handyman website!

[–]GodSpeed_SD 0 points1 point  (0 children)

What do you recommend for building a deck? Mine is old and moldy!

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Hi Travis,

Just curious as to what trades you are legally allowed to practice in in your state or province or whatever.

Not trying to knock your work (I know nothing of it) but I recently got into an argument regarding “skilled trades” vs. “handymen”.


[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

How do I keep caulk in tubes from hardening if I need to store it and use it later once it is opened? Thank you!

[–]oldestnewyorker 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Hi Travis, thanks for doing this. What do you recommend for wood fence maintained? Staining gets expensive - unless you only do it occasionally every 4-5 years or more

[–]2ndbestsnever 0 points1 point  (0 children)

How did the Family Handyman get to be such an awesome and useful publication?

[–]portaadonai 0 points1 point  (0 children)

What are some of the highest skilled tradesmen you have encountered. What do they do, and why does it impress you?

[–]portaadonai 0 points1 point  (0 children)

What are the few most lethal injuries you have seen or experienced, and what would be the key to avoiding them in the future?

[–]portaadonai 0 points1 point  (0 children)

What is it about working with your hands that brings satisfaction in our lives?

[–]hotplasmatits 0 points1 point  (0 children)

why are toilets tested with golf balls? I'm thinking they should use something like a brick of wet clay or a section of a shovel handle. what are your thoughts on this?

[–]Melayan 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Just wanted to say thanks for you and your teammates work. I subscribed to the magazine for a few years and I still flip through them regularly and I just recently got the courage to start actually building things! I've made one of the simple workbenches and workbench/stepstools so far and I am really enjoying it. Keep up the great work, you guys are awesome!

[–]charlestoncrafted -1 points0 points  (0 children)

not DIY related but blog related :) do you hire guest posters or contributors in any way? if so, how does that work - on a one off basis or more on-going? Thanks!

[–]Tenebrousoul -4 points-3 points  (3 children)

Hey Travis. Big fan. Uh, I won't bore you with details, but, uh, what's the best way to remove a ten-penny nail lodged in human bone? This hurts pretty bad, and I can't go to the hospital. My wife would never let me hear the end of it.

[–]Ben_Wojdyla 3 points4 points  (1 child)

Finger or something serious like a femur?

If it's a minor bone like a finger just numb it with ice, twist the nail with pliers, and it will come out, drown the area in alcohol and submerge in a too-hot Epsom salt bath. Dress the wound and change the bandages regularly, and give it an Epsom salt bath daily. Monitor extremely closely for any sign of infection.

If it's in a major bone, something with significant marrow, suck it up and go to the hospital. A bone infection can easily kill you.

[–]Tenebrousoul 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Fingertip. Took me long enough, but I finally got it out. Ty so much. I'll try the Epsom.

[–]modianos 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Not to worry. It will eventually rust away into nothing.

[–]Possible_Opening_212 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Hi Travis! What were you building in how to trim a door?