Keeping your drains clear this Christmas

Author: dpinning  //  Category: DIY Tips, How To Guides

Lots of food will be consumed this Christmas and lots of fat and grease will find their way into our drains unless we actively prevent it. You may not think too much harm can come from fat getting into our drainage system, but you would be wrong and it is the one thing that causes most of the problems we get in the drains at our homes.

This Christmas, and come to think of it all the time as well we should always pour or scrape greasy or oily food waste into a container or jar, then allow grease to cool in the container before throwing it in the waste bin. Always wipe and scrape utensils and plates before washing and dispose of any waste with your household rubbish, detergents will not do this for you they dissolve it for sure, but it will still coagulate when it gets into the main sewerage system.

A good way to avoid the problem is to consider using a Fat Trap to collect excess fat and oil and all sinks should have strainers in the sink to collect food particles, these are cheap and it into the plug hole, may types completely replace the traditional plug. Pouring fat and grease into the sink is not just passing the problem to the local authority; your own drains can become blocked particularly if you have a sump.

Picture: Beppie

Making a London Blind

Author: dpinning  //  Category: How To Guides, Interior Design

To make a London blind, cut a piece of fabric and lining fabric to the size required. Place the fabric with the right sides together to match the raw edges. Pin the fabrics and stitch along the side and bottom edges, just half an inch from the edges. Turn these pieces the right way out and press.

Place the fabric the wrong way up on a flat surface. Mark parallel lines down the length of the fabric at six-inch, 12-inch and 18-inch intervals from each side edge.

Find a piece of Austrian blind tape. Turn one inch under at the bottom edges of the tapes and place the tapes over the 12-inch marking that you created so that the first loop is located two inches from the bottom edge of the fabric. Pin the tapes before stitching them into place.

Turn one inch of material in at the top edge and stitch. Fold the blind down the centre, with the right sides together, and match the marked lines together. Pin and stitch the marked lines from four inches down from the top edge and two inches from the bottom edge. Press the pleats along the length of the blind so that the stitching is centred over the tape.

Pin Velcro and stitch along the top of the blind on the wrong side, very close to the fold at the top. Cut nylon cord in half and secure it to the bottom loops of the tapes. Thread the cords through all the loops. Secure the blind to the batten and fix in place.

Organising your workshop

Author: dpinning  //  Category: DIY Tips, How To Guides

Whether you use your workshop or garage for your hobbies or work it is important to keep it organised to not only provide a safe environment in which to work but also create a productive workflow.

Here are some tips to keeping your workshop organised:

Fit a pegboard

A pegboard is great for organising your tools; they can be fitted with a range of add-ons including shelves, racks and even storage boxes. Easy to fit and maintain, a pegboard can be an invaluable feature to a workshop.

Use Component Drawers

Use component drawers to store all your small items such as screws, fittings and electrical components. Label each drawer up with some self-adhesive labels to make sure that you know what is in each one.

Build some custom shelving

Keep your power tools organised by building custom shelving to store them on. Shelving is also great for storing just about anything, keeping fragile items off the floor and out of the way.

Make enough space for big machinery

If you own any big machinery such as a table saw or band saw it is important from a safety point of view that you have enough space to work all the way around the machine. If your space is small think about getting some frames with wheels built-in, that way you can wheel the machine out when you need it without taking up more room than is needed.

Clean up regularly

One of the biggest tips I can give you is to put your tools away in their proper place once you have finished using them. This not only keeps the workspace clean and clear, but also saves you time when trying to find a specific tool.

Picture: mtneer_man

Manipulating space in the home

Author: dpinning  //  Category: DIY Tips, How To Guides, Interior Design

Manipulating the space in a home is key to having a comfortable environment in which to live, relax and sleep. There may be areas of the home that are too small or too big, but instead of building an extension or fitting a false ceiling why not try using different colours and patterns to manipulate the space.

Using painted walls to manipulate space

Our eyes process colours in a very specific way with some creating an optical illusion; this is great for DIY projects because you can use a variety of colours to make a room seem bigger or smaller depending on the effect you want to create.

Using a warm colour on a wall such as orange, red or brown will make the room seem smaller than it actually is, and using a cooler or paler tone like blues and greens can create the sense of space. This is especially noticeable when painting a featured wall where all of the other walls are a neutral colour.

The same effect can be made on the ceiling and floor. Painting the ceiling and floor a darker tone than the walls will make the room seem smaller, whereas lighter tones give the effect of more space. Adding lighter tones to the ceiling and floor in a hallway will make the space seem bigger and will reflect more light adding to the effect.

Using patterns to manipulate space

Using patterns is also a great way of manipulating the space in your home. Horizontal stripes will make a room seem wider, whereas vertical stripes will increase the height in a room. Large patterns that are focal points have the tendency to make a room seem smaller, whereas a small regular pattern makes the space seem bigger.

Using colours and patterns to manipulate space is a great way of changing the look and feel of a room with the minimum cost.

Picture: Little Greene Paint Company

Easing a sash window

Author: dpinning  //  Category: DIY Tips, How To Guides

Sash window look great and they are really functional, they do justice to any home particularly older homes where they were a standard fitment. However, one thing that can go wrong with a sash window, especially if it is in a very old property and that is they can stick either when just open or they will not open at all. The main cause of this is usually that it has had years of paint applied, both inside and outside, and the paint has either been liberally applied or it has been done badly, but do not despair, they can be made to work again satisfactorily.

With a sharp Stanley knife carefully score down the edge, sometimes the paint has penetrated quite a way and it’s difficult to get a Stanley knife in deep enough without damaging the paintwork. Usually with patience you will be able to free it enough, but if not then you will have to use a flexible steel scraper. Please note these are not like putty knives with wooden handles but have a steel capping on the top edge.

Use a medium sized one which is about 3to 4 inches and hold it up to the gap and gently tap with a hammer.  Because they are so thin they can get into the gap and free up the window without any damage. Do this all around the joins inside an out. Once you’ve got the window, you may have to use a hammer and chisel for this and for the lower window place the chisel only from the outside at the base, the upper one from the inside only and prize them up or down. Then use a sharp chisel or sandpaper to remove any build up of paint on the inside of the runners where the windows run on. It can be quite thick there but with a little effort the window should start to run much more smoothly.

To ensure smooth operation use an old candle to apply some candle wax to the runners this really helps the window to run smoothly. Rub the candle hard on all the parts where the window runs up and down the frame.

Picture: P.Flintandco

How to reupholster a dining chair

Author: dpinning  //  Category: DIY Tips, How To Guides, Interior Design

When your dining chairs start to look a little shabby, you might start thinking about buying a whole new set to get your dining room looking up to scratch again. But if you buy all new chairs, maybe you need a new table too; and that’s when things start to look a little expensive. In fact, it’s actually pretty easy to reupholster a dining chair yourself, and here’s how to do it.

First you need to remove the seat pad from the chair. The frame has screws on the underside of the seat in each corner holding it on; these need to be removed. Once it is lifted away from the chair, you should remove the cardboard or plywood that is stapled to the underside. If this is in good condition, save it to be reused when you put the chair back together.

Next you need to remove the fabric itself. You can used the old fabric to create the pattern for the new piece so that you can be sure that it fits. If the padding underneath is looking a little worn, you can replace this too at a very cheap cost.

To put it all back together, first lay it all out with the fabric right side down, the padding over the top, and the seat pad as the final piece. You’ll then need to staple the fabric in place, first at the centre front and back, then around the edges. The board can be reattached using staples too, which can be hammered in if need be.

And the final step is screw the finished seat pad back onto the frame of the dining chair as it was before.

Picture: Stacie

Fitting a sliding wardrobe

Author: dpinning  //  Category: Bedrooms, DIY Tips, Home Improvements, How To Guides

Sliding wardrobes have been popular for many years for their clean look and ease of use, and are now available using the latest technologies and materials to create a modern storage space.

Custom sliding wardrobes can be purchased from a range of suppliers such as B&Q and Ikea, although specialist manufactures like Slidewardrobes.co.uk wardrobes in particular seem very well built. Made to measure sliding wardrobes are designed to fit perfectly into any room and are specially designed to be easy to fit and maintain.

Measure the space

Before ordering your sliding wardrobe it is important to measure the opening accurately, there is nothing worse than having something custom built only for it to not fit properly. First measure the opening horizontally at the top, bottom and middle of the space. Use the average as your measurement for the width. Next measure vertically from the ceiling to the floor at various points (approximately 1 meter apart) and choose the smallest measurement as your height. You can now order your chosen wardrobe.

Fitting a sliding wardrobe

When your made to measure sliding wardrobe arrives the doors will be pre-fitted with the running gear, so all you have to do is mount the top and bottom tracks for the doors to fit in; this makes it easy for the DIYer and also cheaper too as there is no installation fee.

Fit the top track first; this is usually around 600mm from the back wall, but can be adjusted to fit your needs. Measure your depth from both corners of the back wall and mark with a pencil, this will be where the top track will be mounted. Next, drill some holes in the top track approximately 100mm from each end and periodically along the piece. Offer up the top track in its position on the ceiling and get a helper to hold it in place. Mark all of the holes onto the ceiling with a pencil.

Drill the holes in the ceiling and fit some raw plugs, then screw the top track onto the ceiling making sure that it is level with the back wall. The bottom track is fitted in the same way, but before screwing it to the floor it is a good idea to put one of the doors in place and check that its level with a spirit level. When you are happy with the position the bottom track can be screwed to the floor.

Once both tracks are in place you can fit the doors. Slide the doors into the top track at a slight angle and fit them into the bottom track. Check that the doors run smoothly across the whole wall and adjust if needed.

Now you can either fit a wardrobe rail or a set of shelves or both depending on your needs. Now you can sit back and admire your handy work.

Finishing woodwork with oil

Author: dpinning  //  Category: DIY Tips, How To Guides

Unlike standard finishes like paint and varnish which sit on the surface of the wood, oil penetrates the timber providing a durable finish that does not crack or peel over time. Most oil finishes will last for a few years and is an easy project to maintain.

Types of oil finish

There are various types of oil finish available on the market, here are the most popular ones:

Linseed oil

Linseed oil is a traditional finishing oil used for centuries to protect wood. It is rarely used nowadays mainly because it can take up to 3 days to dry. An alternative is boiled linseed oil that has dryers added and has been gently heated reducing drying time to around 24 hours.

Tung oil
Sometimes referred to as Chinese wood oil, Tung oil is water, alcohol and fruit juice resistant and is suitable to use on both interior and exterior woodwork. Tung oil takes approximately 24 hours to dry.

Danish oil

Danish oil is a commercial wood finishing product which is based on Tung oil but has synthetic resins added to improve durability and strength. Danish oil can be used for any woodwork and can even be used as a top coat for varnish and paint. Danish oils usually take approximately 6 hours to dry depending on the temperature and humidity.

Applying an oil finish

Before applying the finishing oil it is important to clean the timber thoroughly, use white spirits to wipe down the timber and leave to dry.

Apply the first coat of oil with a paintbrush making sure that the whole piece is covered and leave it to sit for around 15 minutes. Then using a soft cloth or pad gently wipe off the excess oil and leave to dry. After approximately 6 hours use an abrasive fibre pad to put on the next coat of oil making sure to rub with the grain of the wood, once full coverage has been obtained leave to dry overnight.

Picture: Daniel Slaughter

How to fix screw and nail holes in the wall

Author: dpinning  //  Category: DIY Tips, Home Improvements, How To Guides

If you’re redecorating your house and moving things around, it often means that where you once had furniture and picture frames, you may no longer have anything. This can leave unsightly nail or screw holes in your walls that are exposed. It is also a good idea to make sure any of these are fixed and covered if you’ve lived in a rental property and are moving, or else you might find that you won’t get your whole deposit back. But it’s really a very easy thing to do, even if you are new to home repair.

Using a joint compound mixture, which is available at any home or hardware store, fill the hole in the wall with a thin layer of it. Smooth it over carefully with a putty knife.

Once the mixture is completely dry, use some sandpaper or a 120 grit sandpaper block to sand the filled hole so that it is completely flat against the wall.

Make sure that you have a paint colour or primer that matches the wall exactly. If you no longer have that paint, or if you never had any in the first place, take along a sample of a picture to a hardware shop who will point you in the right direction. Use this paint to then cover the area.

And that’s all! You can make it even more simple by buying an all-in-one nail hole patch product, but these don’t usually give quite as good finish as doing it the long, but still easy, way round.

Picture: Steve Snodgrass

Painting an old coffee table to give it a new lease of life

Author: dpinning  //  Category: DIY Tips, How To Guides

Nobody likes to have tatty or worn out furniture in their homes, but with a few simple tools and supplies an old coffee table can be given a new lease of life. Whether you have had the table for a number of years or picked it up on a whim from a charity shop or boot sale, a bit of sanding and painting can make a big different and create a focal point in your room.

Cleaning the table

Use an old rag (t-shirt material is good) and some mineral spirits to give the table a good clean. Make sure to clean all of the nooks and crannies and clean as much dirt off the surface as possible.

Sanding the table

Sand the entire table down with 150 grit sandpaper; this can be done by hand but it is much easier to do with a palm sander with a triangle base for reaching the hard to reach areas.

Repair any damage to the table

There are bound to be some dents and gouges in the table and although it might sound daunting these are easy to fix. Simply fill in any dents with wood filler and leave to dry for a couple of hours then sand the area smooth again to match the existing surface.

Priming the table

Give the table a wipe down with an old cloth to get rid of any leftover wood dust and paint the primmer on. There are many different types of primmer on the market and it is recommended that you follow the instructions of your chosen product. Give the table at least two coats of primmer before moving to your chosen colour.

Painting the table

It’s time to add some colour to your table, so take your chosen colour and apply 2-3 light coats until full coverage is achieved. You can also add some stencilled patterns if you like to match a particular theme or mimic a pattern of something else in the room.

Applying a clear coat

Clear coats are designed to protect the paint from damage and give a professional look. They are usually available in gloss or matt finishes and can be brushed on or sprayed on through an aerosol can. Apply 2-3 coast of the clear onto the table and leave to dry for at least 2 days; this will give the paint a chance to harden.

Once its dry it can take pride of place in your front room.

Picture: id-iom