Hot Tips for Homeowners

For good advice you can’t beat someone’s personal experience so I thought I’d share some tips we’ve gleaned from our first online community. We’ve been compiling DIY hints and tips since we began HouseNet BBS, a bulletin board system that we operated in 1991. By 1996 our online community grew to become HouseNet, the home improvement channel on AOL and then in 1997. So these hints and tips are a long time coming.

When we were restoring an old house we wanted to reuse the wonderful window moldings after stripping off the layers of paint. The best advice we got was this tip: The easiest way I have found to remove nails from woodwork that you want to reuse is to use a bench vise. Tighten the vise on the nails and using the woodwork as a lever slowly pull the nails on through and out the back of the board. Most of the time this will leave the original wood putty intact and if the piece splinters it will be on the back of the board. A lot easier on the hands too.

An inventive visitor has this advice for solo moving: Ever try to move a heavy object alone? I have found a way to move almost anything alone. Use a skateboard on one end. Then all you have to do is lift one end and guide it where you want it. I have used this to move even a freezer by myself.

Here’s another idea we’ve used in the backyard: Use a garden hose to mark off an area to create a new landscaping bed. The garden hose is flexible enough for form long looping curves and straight runs and it is easy to work with.

After refinishing several pieces of furniture here’s a tip we added to the database: To sand in tight spots and round spindles I make sanding strips with sandpaper and masking tape. Cut the sandpaper to the desired width, usually 1/2-inch or 1-inch wide, and put masking tape on both ends to act as handles. Work the strip around the object like you’re using dental floss until the wood surface has the desired smoothness. To read more of these useful hints and tips and find the cost of hundreds of home improvement projects visit us


Gene and Katie Hamilton are authors of 20 home improvement books and creators of, a website that compares the DIY and contractor costs of hundreds of repair, decorating and remodeling projects. Their weekly column Do It Yourself or Not is syndicated by Tribune Content Agency.
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