Install a Dimmer Switch

Tools & Materials Checklist

_ Standard screwdriver

_ Wire cutter/stripper

_ Neon circuit tester

_ Wire connectors

_ Tape (if needed)

_ Switch cover (if needed)

_ Single-pole or three-way dimmer


Install a Dimmer Switch


Replacing a simple on-off light switch with a dimmer makes your lighting more adaptable to changing needs. Buy a single-pole dimmer for a circuit with an outlet controlled from only one location and a three-way dimmer for a circuit with an outlet controlled from two switch locations.

Step 1. Turn off the Power

At your main electric panel, shut off the circuit breaker (or remove the fuse) for the circuit that feeds the switch.


If there are others in the house that might turn it back on, place a piece of tape over the breaker or

door as a reminder.

Step 2. Remove the Switch

Remove the screws that secure the switch plate and the switch. Pull the switch out of the box. To verify that power has indeed been shut off, touch one probe of a neon circuit tester to one of the terminal screws and the other to the metal outlet box, a white neutral wire, or a bare (or green) ground wire. Repeat, moving the probe to the other switch terminal.


It is dangerous and illegal to overcrowd a switch box. The size of the box, the gauges of the wires, the number of devices, and other factors determine the number of wires allowed. Consult a licensed electrician or electrical inspector if you have any doubts.

Step 3. Disconnect Wires

From a single-pole switch:

Disconnect both black wires and the bare or green ground wire from the switch. Either loosen the terminal screws or insert a small screwdriver into the rectangular hole adjacent to the wire depending on where the connections are made.

From a three-way switch:

One of the wires is connected under a different colored screw or is plugged into a hole in the rear of the switch labeled “Common.” Tag this wire with a piece of tape.

Tip: Choosing the Correct Switch

Make sure that the total maximum wattage allowed for all the light fixtures that will be controlled by a single dimmer does not exceed the maximum wattage rating on the dimmer. For example, if you have six lights, each rated for a maximum 100W lamp, you will need at least a 600W dimmer. Incidentally, low-voltage lighting requires low-voltage controls, and most fluorescent lights cannot be controlled by dimmers. Once you know the right capacity, you need to choose from the various types of controls — pushon/

push-off, rotate-on/rotate-off, knob, slide, touch-activated, toggle switch with slide, or other methods.

Step 5. Wire the Dimmer

a. For a single-pole circuit:

If there is a green ground wire on the switch, connect it to the green or bare wire from the outlet box. Connect one of the dimmer wires to each of the wires that you removed from the switch. Twist on wire connectors until they are tight and so no bare wire is exposed at the base of the connectors.

b. For a three-way circuit:

If there is a green ground wire on the switch, connect it to the green or bare wire from the outlet. Connect the black dimmer wire to the wire that you taped. Connect each of the red dimmer wires to one of the wires removed from the old switch.

Step 6. Secure the Switch

Gently bend the wires as needed to install the switch in the outlet box. Secure the switch to the box with the two screws provided. Adjust the switch so it is plumb (straight up and down) and centered in the box before the final screw tightening.

Step 7. Cover and Test

Install the switch cover and restore power in order to test how the dimmer operates. Depending upon the style of the new switch, you may need to replace the cover with one that suits the new dimmer.

Step 4. Prepare the Wires

Cut off the exposed portion of each wire and use a wire stripper to remove the correct amount of insulation, which varies according to wire gauge. (Remove 3/8 inch for 14-gauge and 1/2 inch for 10- or 12-gauge.) The switch wires should already be stripped, but if not, prepare them the same way.

To see diagrams, follow this link:

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Painting Kitchen Cabinets

Tools & Materials Checklist
□ Screwdriver
□ Newspaper
□ TSP (trisodium phosphate)
□ Sponge
□ Bucket
□ Sandpaper (coarse & fine grit)
□ Masking tape
□ 2-Qts. Primer (water or oil-base)
□ 1-Gal. Oil-base paint (satin, gloss or semi-gloss)
□ 2-1/2” Natural bristle brush
□ Paint tray
□ Two tray liners
□ Roller handle
□ 2 or 3 roller sleeves (lamb’s wool)
□ Paint thinner
□ Can (coffee can or large soup can)
Painting Kitchen Cabinets
If you are remodeling your kitchen, or just want to give it a quick face-lift and don’t want to spend a lot of money, consider repainting your cabinets. You can brighten your whole kitchen by painting your wood or veneer cabinets a fresh color. We recommend the EZ-Kare line to paint because cabinets get used a lot and EZ-Kare is durable enough to withstand everyday use.
The easiest way to do this project is to leave the inside of the cabinets alone. The inside is only seen when the cabinet is open so it isn’t as important. Also, if you paint the inside of the cabinet you would have to take everything out that is in them. Even without painting the insides, this project takes three days so plan to do it when you have the time.
Caution: The fumes from the paint and the primer can get intense so you need to make sure that some windows or doors are open. Don’t make this a winter project.
Step 1. Remove Cabinet Hardware & Protect Surrounding Areas Remove the door handles, hinges and knobs using a screwdriver. If your cabinets use magnetic closures, take them off as well. Some doors have inside hinges that aren’t on the face of the cabinet, in this case it would be acceptable to leave them on. Put newspaper on the countertops and on the floor to protect them from the paint.
Tip: Sandpaper Know-How Sandpaper comes in a range of grit or coarseness. There are very coarse papers to very fine. This range is numbered with the coarsest having the smallest number and the finest the largest. A good coarse paper is number 80. A good fine paper for this project is a 200 to 300.
Step 2. Clean Cabinets Clean with TSP. This is a powder, so you need to mix it with water in a bucket. Wash the doors and the exterior of the cabinet facades and the front and sides of the cabinet using a sponge. Let the cabinets dry, then sand them with coarse-grit sandpaper. You want to give the surface a rough texture so the primer grips. Sand until the shiny surfaces are dull.
Tip: Oil vs. Water-Based Primer Generally, the oil-based primer works well because the paint really sticks to it. Although, there are now water-based primers that work just as well, plus they don’t smell as much. Check with our store’s Paint Pro for advice.
Step 3. Prime Cabinets Apply primer with a roller and brush to the front and back of the doors first, then do the cabinet facades. When working on the doors hold them open with the tip of your finger. When you have used the roller as much as you can, go back with the brush and prime any areas you couldn’t reach.
Step 4. Prime & Paint Hinges (Optional)
You can prime and paint the hinges while they are off the doors so they match or contrast with the cabinets. It’s easier if you use a can of spray primer and spray paint in order for the paint to get in all of the small crevices and holes on the hinges. Let them dry overnight.
Step 5. Cleanup Clean the brush using paint thinner. Throw away the roller tray liner and the sleeve.
Step 6. Paint First Coat Paint the cabinet with the first coat of paint. Follow the same pattern that you used for priming the cabinet. Let the paint dry for 24 hours.
Step 7. Do a Partial Clean-Up Pour some paint thinner into a can and soak the brush overnight. Put the sleeve into an air-tight zip-lock bag so you can use it again tomorrow. Pour any excess paint back into the can and close it up.
Step 8. Apply Final Coat Lightly sand any bubbles that formed in the first coat of paint using the fine-grit sandpaper. Be careful not to take off the paint you just put on. Apply the final coat of paint. By now you should know where the roller can’t reach so you can do the brushwork first, then the roller. Reuse your old roller unless it hardened overnight. After you have finished applying the final coat you are finished. The surface should dry for 24 hours before reattaching the doors but be careful for a couple of weeks since it can still scratch.
Step 9. Final Cleanup Clean the brush in the can of paint thinner. Throw away the roller sleeve and the tray liner. Clean off the handle with paint thinner. Some states don’t allow you to dump paint thinner down the drain, so make sure you find out first.

Build an Indoor Window Planter

Tools and Materials Checklist:

□ Tape measure

□ Clamps

□ 1”x 8” knot-free lumber (ends, faces & optional shelf)

□ Drill & 3/32” twist bit

□ 1”x 6” No. 2 pine (bottom)

□ Waterproof wood glue

□ Saw

□ Hammer

□ Nail set

□ 6d galvanized finishing nails or 2” finishing screws and #1 Phillips screwdriver

□ Circular or table saw (optional)

□ Pair of 6” decorative shelf brackets with screws

□ Plane

□ Plasti-Dip spray or ½-pt. can

□ Rubber sanding block or finishing sander

□ Paint or other finish and brushes

□ Sandpaper (80-, 120- and 220-grit)

□ Planting supplies

Build an Indoor Window Planter


Flower boxes do such a beautiful job of dressing up windows that it’s a shame to limit their use to outdoors. So spruce up any room with this indoor window planter on a counter, a table in front of a window or on decorative brackets that you install just below the window. The container is waterproofed on the inside and will not be exposed to harsh weather conditions, so you can choose a wood and finish to complement or match your interior woodwork. You can even try your hand at a decorative painting technique such as sponging or stenciling. If you plan to paint the planter, build it with any select (knot-free) grade of wood such as pine or poplar. If you prefer a natural finish, consider a fine hardwood such as oak or maple. Normally a planter might have a vertical back but we angled both faces, enabling you to turn the planter 180 degrees so the plants won’t all lean toward the sun.

Step 1. Determine the Dimensions

Your indoor window planter will probably look best if it is as wide as the outside dimension of the window casing and no wider than the interior windowsill. The planter should be at least deep enough and high enough to accommodate a 6-in. diameter flower pot. The size of the design shown (at right), uses 1×8 lumber for the ends and faces and 1×6 lumber for the bottom of the planter.

Step 2. Cut and Mill the Parts

Cut the front, back, and ends from your lumber. You can use a lesser-grade lumber, such as No. 2 pine, for the bottom.

2a. Bottom: If you have a circular saw or table saw, set the bevel adjustment to 5 degrees, and rip (cut with the grain) both edges of the bottom to 5 inches wide (at the widest point). Alternatively, use a plane to bevel a 5-degree angle on the two edges. Cut the bottom 3/4 inch shorter than the length of the faces so it will be recessed 3/8 inch when assembled.

2b. Ends: Rip the 1×8 to 6 inches wide (which corresponds to the height of the ends), then cut the sides at an 85-degree angle to create a 5-in. and a 7-in. base on these two trapezoidal pieces.

2c. Faces: Rip or plane a 5-degree bevel along the bottom edge of each piece.

Step 3. Sand Parts Smooth

Use a rubber sanding block or finishing sander and sand all the pieces smooth; starting with 80-grit, then 120-grit, and finishing with 220-grit sandpaper. Be sure to sand along the length of the boards along with the grain.

Step 4. Assemble the Planter

Brush glue on all edges of the bottom and rest it on 1/2-in. thick spacers. Clamp the two ends onto the bottom and pre-drill 3/32-in. pilot holes for the fasteners. Secure the ends to the bottom with 6d galvanized nails or finishing screws. Glue the front and back edges of the end pieces; similarly clamp and attach the faces to the bottom and the ends. Wipe off excess glue with a damp cloth and touch up with your sander if needed.

Tip: Pre-Drilling Nails

Pre-drilling prevents the fasteners from splitting the wood (especially hardwoods) and makes it a lot easier to accurately drive the nails or finishing screws.

Step 5. Waterproof the Interior

Mask the top edge of the planter and apply Plasti-Dip to the interior surfaces. Plasti-Dip, available in spray cans or as a brush-on liquid, forms a flexible, waterproof membrane when it dries. It is available in yellow, black, red, blue, and clear.

Why Waterproof? The waterproofed interior of the planter means you can put soil directly into it, but not all plants have the same water needs. Setting pots in the planter and filling the gaps with pine bark or similar mulch will also make it easier to change plantings and maintain the planter.

Step 6. Apply a Finish

When the interior dries, reposition the masking tape over the top inside edge and finish the sides and top with any interior paint, stain, or polyurethane finish.

Step 7. Install the Planter under a Window

To mount the planter on shelf brackets or on a shelf supported by brackets, you must install those brackets with screws into solid wall framing. Glue 1/2-in. wood spacers to the bottom at the bracket locations to ensure sturdiness. Locate studs with an electronic stud finder or by a combination of tapping (listening for hollow and solid sounds) and observing the location of any baseboard nails

Tip: Placement of Brackets

If brackets secured to studs would not be symmetrically located, screw a board to the wall and then secure the bracket to the board.

Step 8. Setting Your Plants and Flowers

If you plan to place soil directly into your planter, you must provide drainage. Put at least 1-1/2 inches of crushed stone in the bottom of the planter and cover it with a layer of landscape fabric before you add soil and plants. If you prefer to keep plants in their pots, simply put the pots in the planter and fill around them with sphagnum moss, pine bark, or similar mulch. Set smaller pots on blocks of wood or on some mulch so their tops are even with those of larger plants.

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Build a Water Garden in Your Backyard

Build a Water Garden in Your Backyard

If a tropical vacation is not in the budget, consider bringing a bit of paradise to your backyard by constructing a water garden or pond. Whether it be free-form designed and installed to your exact specifications or prefabricated from one of may designs, the result will be an attractive addition your landscape. And, in most cases, it’s a project that can be accomplished in a weekend.

While there is no limit to size, most water gardens take up very little space. A pond can occupy be 8 by 10 feet or twice that size – whichever works for you. It’s important to place it in your existing landscape so that it looks like nature placed in your yard. Best of all, constructing a water garden requires no special skills, but you will need a strong back to remove soil and to import rocks and plants for your new oasis.
A water garden is shallow, requiring less than two feet of excavation – the average depth ranges from 18 to 24 inches. Once dug out, the area is lined with a heavy, vinyl waterproof liner, or a prefabricated plastic pond is placed into the excavated area. Decorative rocks, small stones and coarse gravel can be randomly placed around the pond’s bottom. This also provides an added level of protection for the vinyl liner. The entire area does not need to be covered; just enough to conceal most of the liner and to anchor the plants in position.

Most importantly, a backyard pond does NOT have to be a breeding ground for mosquitoes or other pests. But you need a closed-cycle pump and filtration system to keep the water moving and filtered. A 110-volt outdoor electrical outlet is required and, due to its proximity to the water, it should be protected by a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). What the filter doesn’t take care of, your school of debris-eating fish will. When planned and installed properly, your water garden should be virtually maintenance-free.

Tools & Material Checklist:
􀀻Garden hose or rope
􀀻Shovel, other digging tools
􀀻Paving or stone
􀀻Pond liner (flexible rubber or hard shell)
􀀻Pump, filter, and heater (optional)
􀀻Large and small stones, decorative rocks and corse gravel
􀀻Mortar: 3 parts sand and 1 part cement
􀀻Closed-cycle pump
􀀻Filtration system
􀀻110-Volt outdoor electrical outlet
􀀻Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI)
􀀻Flexible plastic tube
􀀻Fish, aquatic plants and greenery for edges
Step 1. Outline Shape and Remove Sod
Locate pond in a level area, preferably at the lowest point in the yard and with mixed sun and shade. Use a garden hose or rope to outline the perimeter of your pond. Use the soil that is removed to build up the area and serve as a landscape berm.

Step 2. Excavate
If using a hard-shell liner, dig out the center to full depth and then slope sides. With a rubber or reinforced PVC flexible liner, you can create a shelf for plants around the perimeter of the pond. Do this by excavating the entire area to plant-shelf depth (typically 6 to 12 inches) then dig deeper (18 to 24 inches) in the remaining area.

Step 3. Level and Smooth Area
Remove all rocks and roots. Line the leveled horizontal surfaces with an inch or two of wet sand. If using a flexible liner, also cushion the walls with long-lasting polyester lining.

Step 4. Install Liner
Drop in hard-shell liner, or drape a sun-warmed rubber liner into the hole so it overlaps at least a foot on all sides. Weight the edges with large stones. As you fill the hard shell with water, backfill with sand between the shell and the earth. As you fill the liner with water, smooth out large wrinkles in a fabric liner and trim off excess for a 4- to 6-inch overlap.

Step 5. Landscape the Edge
To disguise the shell’s hard edge or to cover the exposed liner, landscape the perimeter with stones and plants. For a formal edging, called coping, set paving stones in a bed of mortar (3 parts sand, 1 part cement). For a natural look, set stones on plant shelves; cover the liner with gravel and mulch for plants, or soil for sod.

Step 6. Add Plants and Stock Pond
Visit your local pet shop for help in selecting to correct types of scavenger fish.

Step 7. Plants and Greenery
Among the important elements to constructing a successful pond are the plants around its edges. In addition to providing color and helping to create a natural setting, they provide an environment that is attractive to frogs, turtles and birds. If they don’t show up on their own, they can be imported. They are a must to keep your school of scavenging fish company.

The proper plants also help the water from becoming stagnant by keeping it properly oxygenated, fresh and clear. The water lily, water hyacinth and lotus are the most popular flowering aquatic plants. For shallow water along the perimeter, consider suning arrowhead, pennywort, water hawthorne or sweet flag.

You should also have underwater oxygenator plants such as anarcharis or caboma. Figure about two bunches for each square yard of the pond’s water surface. Each of these plants does best when placed at different depths, therefore the base of the pond should be sloped or stair-stepped to the shore to facilitate planting.

Finally, a word about safety… A youngster can drown in two feet of water. Therefore, you’ll want to keep the safety of children in mind as you design and build your backyard oasis.

Install a Garbage Disposal

Tools & Materials
□ Groove-joint pliers
□ Hacksaw
□ Dishpan
□ Garbage disposal
□ Slotted screwdriver
□ Plumber’s putty
□ Electrical supplies (as needed)
□ Plastic waste piping and fittings
□ Hose clamp for dishwasher
Install a Garbage Disposal
Garbage disposals are efficient, safe and virtually trouble-free devices that anyone who knows how to use a screwdriver and wrench can install in a few hours. Batch-feed models, touted for their safety, are similar to a food processor. Once it is filled with waste, it’s activated when the sink plug is twisted into the sink opening. Whereas, a continuous-feed disposal is operated by a switch on the wall or cabinet, and runs continuously while waste is fed into the grinding chamber.
Cold water must be kept running while a disposal is in operation. The water cools and lubricates the grinding parts and helps to send the pulverized waste down the drain.
Step 1.  Remove Drain
Remove the existing waste (drain) pipes from the sink strainer to the threaded fitting at the wall or floor (stubout). If the removed piping is plastic with compression (threadedtype) fittings, you can possibly reuse it. But if the pipe is welded or metal, throw it away. Unscrew the fittings by hand or with groove-joint pliers and use a hacksaw to cut the welded pipe.
Tip: Catch Standing Water

Place a plastic dishpan under the drain trap to catch standing water as
you either remove the drain plug, if there is one, or disconnect the trap.
Step 2. Replace Sink Strainer
Remove the sink strainer fitting that is secured to the sink bowl. One type of strainer is held with a large lock nut, but there are types that use three screws. In its place, install the flange that comes with the disposer. Apply plumber’s putty under its lip (as pictured) to form a seal with the sink bowl.
Step 3. Install Mounting Assembly
Slip the mounting assembly gasket and mounting and retaining rings over the neck of the sink flange and tighten the screws. First tighten one, then the others a little at a time until the gasket and flange are both tight to the sink bowl. Remove excess putty from around the flange inside the sink.
Step 4. Mount Disposal
Before you mount the disposal, make the wiring connections at the disposal (as pictured). Be sure to allot enough cable to extend to the power source (see Step 6). Reattach the drain elbow. If you have a dishwasher, prepare the disposal drain following the manufacturer’s instructions. Slip the disposal’s
slotted flange over the mounting bolts.
Step 5. Connect Plastic Waste Pipe
Connect a two-piece tubular P-trap to the drain elbow and the drain fitting at the wall (stubout). As needed, cut the P-trap and rotate both the trap section of the P-trap and the disposal. Complete tightening the waste pipe fittings and the disposal. Connect any dishwasher hose to the disposal’s drain fitting with a stainless steel hose clamp (as pictured).
Tip: Waste Connection

The waste connection shown in this project is typical. If yours is more complex, make a dimensioned sketch and bring it back to your True Value store for the appropriate recommendations.
Step 6. Power Connection
If you have electrical wiring experience and plan to make the power connection to the disposal, be sure to first turn off the power before beginning the work. Disposals need to connect to a grounded 20-amp circuit. The steps in order to connect power differ with each type of disposal. For example, continuous-feed disposals are wired to an on/off switch (as pictured) located on a wall or in the sink cabinet. Whereas a batch-feed disposal has its own integral switch and is hard-wired or plugged directly to the wall outlet. It is best to have an electrician handle this part of the job
if you are not knowledgeable about local code requirements and basic electrical wiring.
Tip: Air Vents and Disposal Jams

Once in a while you will find that the air vent on the sink will overflow when the dishwasher is running. This is because the disposal has thrown waste into the dishwasher drain hose and has partially clogged it. When this happens, remove the hose from the disposal, clean it out with a hanger and replace the hose. If the disposal ever jams, quickly turn it off. Use the end of a wooden mop wedged against the opening of the disposal to loosen the blades that are located at the bottom of the disposal. In some instances, the reset button
(usually located at the bottom of the disposal) will have to be pushed in order to return power. Never discard rice, nut shells, pits, or fibrous waste into the disposal. And, for continuous-feed disposals, never force large volumes of anything at one time since it could cause a drain clog.

Repairing Metal Gutters

Repairing Metal Gutters From

Rain can bring life to your lawn and garden, but it can be murder on your house. Gutters take the brunt of the storms so they need to be examined and repaired immediately. If they aren’t, you may get extensive water damage to the outside and inside of your house. Clogged, dented or torn gutters can create pools of water on the roof or along the foundation which then leak into your basement.

There are many products that have been developed to prevent gutter clogs. Mesh gutter guards cover the gutter so leaves can’t get into it. To prevent debris from going down the downspout, there are downspout strainers. These items help prevent future problems, but there are some problems that you need to take care of now.

Some minor problems, such as holes and cracks, can be fixed simply by filling them with gutter caulk or by using a gutter patching kit. (These are applied to the inside of the gutter.) More serious problems, such as patching a tear or replacing a section of gutter, involve a little more work and are explained below. However, if you have extensive damage, you need to start over and install new gutters.

Materials Checklist

􀂉 Extension ladder (3-ft. above edge of roof for stability)

􀂉 Ladder stabilizer

􀂉 2 stakes and wooden blocks

􀂉 Wire brush

􀂉 Abrasive pad

􀂉 Small putty knife

􀂉 Roof cement

􀂉 Metal flashing (same metal as gutter & big enough to cover bottom/side of gutter

Replace a Section of a Gutter

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Materials List

􀂉 Extension ladder (3-ft. above edge of roof for stability)

􀂉 Ladder stabilizer

􀂉 2 stakes and wooden blocks

􀂉 4” long Wood spacer (as wide as gutter)

􀂉 Screwdriver or pry bar

􀂉 Little spacers (Dependant upon design of gutter)

􀂉 Hacksaw

􀂉 Gutter

􀂉 Wire brush

􀂉 Gutter caulk

􀂉 Electric Screwdriver

􀂉 6 sheet metal screws

Replace a Section of a Gutter

Step 1. Remove Gutter Hangers Use the ladder with the ladder stabilizer to reach the gutters. Make sure you brace the feet of the ladder. (See Safety Tip under Patch a Tear in a Metal Gutter.) Take off any gutter hangers that are in or around the damaged area using the screwdriver or pry bar; depending on what type of gutter hangers you have. Put the wood spacer in the gutter while you remove the hangers. This will prevent distortion while you apply pressure.

Step 2. Cut Out Damaged Area Slip the little spacers between the gutter and the wall. This protects the roof and wall when you are cutting the gutter. Cut out the damaged section of gutter using the hacksaw.

Step 3. Make Gutter Section Cut the new gutter section so that it is 4 inches longer than the damaged area that you cut out. Turn the gutter upside down and cut, making sure you have a solid base to work from.

Step 4. Position Gutter Section Use a wire brush and scrub the inside edges of the old gutter. Caulk the ends from the inside, about 2 inches on the sides and bottom of the gutter at each end. Then place the new piece into the old gutter. The new piece should be centered so that the caulk is covered on both ends. Press the new section into the caulk.

Step 5. Re-Hang the Gutters Screw or rivet the new pieces together using 3 on each side. Caulk over the screws that are exposed on the inside of the gutter. Reattach the gutter hangers.