Thanksgiving Crossword Puzzle to Work with Family and Friends

iA279Tired of watching football games? Are the kids looking bored and need a little quality time with you? Check out our Thanksgiving crossword puzzle and work it with them. It’s an enjoyable exercise to baffle and befuddle that you can print out and work with a pencil or go interactive and work it out online. Turkey Time

Wherever you are we hope you enjoy the holiday with loved ones.

And visit http://www.diyornot.com for more puzzles and to compare the cost of home improvements so you can decide to do it yourself or hire a contractor.

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Not Pretty, But Practical – Build Utility Shelves

If you have a less-than-organized garage or basement, you can feel better about the clutter by adding shelves to line the walls and store all your stuff. We like using Strong-Tie metal connectors with ready-to-cut sheets of plywood to make sturdy utility shelves. They won’t win a beauty contest but they’re a practical solution to getting organized.

A handyman or carpenter will charge $220 to build a 4-foot-wide, six-shelf unit. If you have basic carpentry skills, you can build it for $100, the cost of the materials, and save 54 percent. Plan to precut the lumber first and make your cuts accurate and square. With 264 screws to drive, you’ll almost certainly want an electric screwdriver or drill/driver. You also need a tape measure, framing square, handsaw, miter box or a circular saw, square/saw guide, hammer, sanding block and sawhorses.

The first phase of the project involves cutting 2×2 lumber into legs and rails and then cutting plywood into shelves. Then sand all the pieces. Lay out the shelf connectors, creating a rigid shelf so there’s no need for diagonal bracing. Assemble the pieces last by attaching the legs, rails and shelves. For extra stability, fasten the unit to the wall.

Go to www.strongtie.com for more project ideas with plans and instructions.

To find more DIY and contractor project costs, videos and calculators, visit www.diyornot.com on a laptop, tablet or smartphone.

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How Much to Reface, Not Replace Cabinets?

Refacing is an alternative to replacing kitchen cabinets that’s less costly because it uses the existing cabinets and adds a new laminate surface to their base, fronts, sides and doors. It’s a good choice if the cabinets are in sound condition, provide the storage space you want and are located to make the most of your kitchen layout. The job typically involves a laminate veneer being applied to the cabinet bases, doors and drawer fronts, and installing new hardware.

In a medium-sized kitchen with 15 feet of base and wall cabinets a contractor will charge $8,150 to reface the cabinets, which includes labor and material. It does not include new countertops. You can do the job for $650, the cost of the material and pocket a big savings. The job starts with removing the cabinet doors, drawer fronts and hardware. Then the detail work begins. It’s a tedious precision job that includes preparing the surfaces and using specialized veneering rollers, blades and irons to apply the veneer. Despite the big DIY savings we think it’s a job best left to a pro.

To find more DIY and contractor project costs, videos and calculators, visit www.diyornot.com on a laptop, tablet or smartphone.

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Home To Do Checklist for November

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The end of the year is not far behind and so is a change in the weather. If the temperatures is changing to cooler and colder where you live, it’s a good idea to prepare for winter weather. The items for this month combine 7 basic cleaning jobs and inspections with specific suggestions for cold weather climates. If you live in a warm climate it’s still a good idea to look at these items especially the ones at the top of the list which will assure your heating and cooling system will work to peak capacity.  If you live in warmer climate, forget about those items specific to cold weather and concentrate on making your home clean and comfortable.

*** Replace filters in heating system and humidifier because dirty filters trap dust

*** Clean carpeting, upholstered furniture and draperies

*** Plug air leaks in siding or foundation with spray foam insulation

*** Insulate crawlspace walls

*** Inspect exterior lights and outlets

*** Mark driveway with stakes for snow

*** Tune up snow shovel and snowblower

If you’re considering a home improvement visit us at www.diyornot.com to find cost comparisons for hundreds of projects and compare how much it costs to do it yourself vs. hire a contractor for the job.

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Remove a Tree Stump

We thought removing an unwanted tree in our back yard wouldn’t be that big of a project because the tree wasn’t large. In fact, cutting it down was a slow but methodical job. Removing the stump, however, now that was a different story. But thanks to a rented stump grinder, we got the job done. You could spend a day cutting and hacking at a tree stump, but to remove it, you have to grind it up into small pieces, and that’s why a powerful grinder is necessary equipment.

A landscape contractor or tree service will charge $258 to remove a 14-inch diameter tree stump, which includes labor and material. You can rent a gas-powered stump grinder for the day for $150 and do it yourself, but there’s more than your time and money to consider. You need a trailer hitch on your vehicle to transport the grinder or pay extra to have it delivered. If the tree stump is located in a gated yard or area that’s difficult to reach, you may have difficulty getting the grinder in place. If there’s any doubt, survey the approach and determine how you’ll get the grinder to the tree stump by measuring the width of the widest opening to the yard. Choose a grinder that can be maneuvered through it. If there’s no easy access to the stump, you’ll have to do it the old fashioned way and dig it out with a shovel.

You can do preliminary work to the stump before the grinder is in place by using an ax and chainsaw to cut it down to about six inches from the ground. Remove any rocks or debris around the stump so they don’t dull or damage the cutting wheel. And always wear eye and hearing protection operating the brut. Before you begin grinding, have a game plan for using or removing all the wood chips you created.

Here’s more about landscaping Landscape Advisor.

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Build a Dog Run for Your Favorite Friend


What we humans won’t do for our dogs! We’ve all heard of the extremes, but a basic dog kennel is a sensible way to create a safe outdoor area for pets to roam and rest. We’re talking about a chain-link structure best situated in a location in the yard that’s dry, level and shaded from the sun, and that’s sold as a kit so it’s relatively easy to build. The modular kits – in different configurations and sizes – are a system of frames, mesh panels, a gate and roof panel. The unit is secured with tie-down stakes and anchors hammered into the ground. While some kits are made of mesh panels that fit together, others require stretching the mesh fabric on the frames.

A fence contractor will charge $480 to install a 6-by-12-foot gated kennel that’s 6 feet high, This includes the labor and material. You can buy a kennel kit of similar size for $318 and install it and pocket a 33 percent saving. You’ll find kennel kits sold online and at home and lawn centers and at fence companies. In many communities, an outdoor structure requires a building permit, so check with your local building department to see if one is needed. The depth depends on the frost line (how deep the ground freezes) is your area. There may be other restrictions about the height of the kennel, which often falls under the category of a fence project.

Working with chainlink mesh fencing can be rough on your hands. Wear heavy workgloves for protection.

Here’s instructions from True Value How to Build a Dog Run.

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Safe Footing in the Dark

Path Lighting

Outdoor living isn’t confined to daytime anymore because you can use the high power of low voltage lighting to extend the use of your yard into the evening. While low voltage lighting began as security lighting, it has evolved into an attractive enhancement that complements the exterior of a home.

A low voltage system is made of a transformer, low voltage cable and fixtures. The transformer plugs into an outdoor receptacle and reduces standard line voltage into safe-to-handle low voltage used by the lights. The cable runs from the transformer into the yard and can be easily concealed beneath mulch or planting material. The cables connect a series of fixtures together throughout the landscape. Each fixture has a lead cable, which passes through a fitting that you install in a stake with a screwdriver.

Your yard is your stage so consider all the possibilities. Start with a rough sketch with dimensions of your yard and pinpoint where you’d like to add lighting. Give family members a flashlight and experiment by walking around your yard at dusk and then later in the evening when it’s completely dark. Look for ways to enhance the landscape by adding a light in the garden beds to highlight a showy shrubbery or tree, or showcase an architectural feature of your house. As you walk around your yard consider where light is needed for safety and deter intruders. Take the weather and seasonal changes into account, too. Don’t install lighting where a snow shovel might damage it or where heavy rain falls.

Don’t overdo it – too much outdoor lighting is not a good thing. You’re not trying to replicate daylight, the goal is to create a subtle effect. When in doubt, use less rather than more fixtures. For example, a walkway can look like a runway with too many even spaced fixtures, instead place them staggered or randomly.

Once you’ve decided the location of light fixtures and how many are needed, bring out a long garden hose to simulate the cable. Lay out the run of the cable route working it away from the transformer to see how much you’ll need.

Bring your sketch and notes when you shop for low voltage fixtures, which you’ll find at home and lawn centers and hardware stores. The systems and fixtures, also called lanterns, are sold individually and as kits. A typical low voltage landscape lighting kit, available for about $100, includes 6-8 fixtures, low-voltage cable and a transformer. The fixtures are made of plastic, aluminum or metal and come in a variety of styles and finishes. There are also surface-mount systems designed for installing on a deck.

You’ll also find solar-powered lights that rely on sunlight to operate, which you simply place in the ground and motion-activated units that turn on automatically when someone walks near your home, and turns off when they leave the area. Choose a style that compliments your home and one that has components sold separately so you have flexibility in your lighting design in the future.

Here’s more information Cost of Outdoor Lighting Fixtures.

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