At some point, I think I mentioned that I busted up my ankle, and how glorious it was. I think the painkillers must have been going to my head. There pretty much isn’t anything fun about the entire process that I can think of at this point. I can’t move around very well–sleeping in my Frankenstein boot is near impossible, and trying to use stairs is an exercise in looking like an idiot, feeling like an idiot, and perhaps falling on your face and sliding to the bottom of the stairs to start all over again–like an idiot. These kinds of things make me crabby. I want to choose to look like an idiot. Fortunately for you the dear reader–this has given me time to peruse my voluminous mailbag–and pass on my sagely DIY advice. Of course–these are all fake real letters from real DIY’ers just like you!
Dear Crabby: I just purchased a home. The attic is infested with squirrels, bats, mice, and a new species of chimpanzee I think I may name after my first wife. I was wondering–are there ramifications to having “pests” in my home? And if so–how can I prevent them from coming in? Sincerely, A. Ventura, Miami, FLA
Dear A. Ventura, There are certainly ramifications for having pests in your home. Not only can they be frightening–certain species of pests can be a health concern. Common household pests are mice, squirrels, bats–in fact the list is really too numerous to get into here–but they essentially range from Badgers to weevils. The best policy is to prevent pests before they get in. Check around your home for cracks, openings for vents, pipes, utilities etc. Make sure these things are sealed properly to prevent insects from getting in. Insects can get in on plants that are touching the home. Inspect caulking around windows, doors, and any other opening into the living area. House mice can get into openings of around 1/4”. These types of openings can be sealed with a can of expanding foam. The best policy however is to eliminate what the pests are coming in for–most often food. Pet food, people food, pretty much any type of food should be stored in containers, and in pest-proof areas.
Dear Crabby: I am interested in the most basic, simple, and easy Home Improvement Projects–but am on a budget. What are the most important power tools you would recommend to own? Cheaply Yours, B. Madoff, Raleigh, NC
Dear B. Madoff, Contrary to my–and many others beliefs–one does not have to have a ton of power tools to accomplish simple projects. Why someone would choose this route is definitely beyond my scope of rationale–but to be fair it can be done. A good quality cordless drill sits at the top of my list. It works as a drill, power screwdriver, paint mixer, and some even come equipped with flash lights! The versatility, and over all usefulness of a cordless drill is unmatched. Secondly, I would say a circular saw–as many projects will require some cutting of lumber, trim, or other material. Virtually any cut can (this doesn’t mean should) be accomplished with nothing more than a circular saw.
Dear Crabby: I need to build 8 playpens out of pre-fabricated kits I, um…bought. Do you travel to install these things? XOx8! O. Mom, La Habra, CA
Dear O. Mom, Despite my years of experience as a carpenter–I cannot build pre-fab furniture. There is never enough pieces, and the instructions are a mixture of Farsi and somewhat recognizable English. I recommend hiring a civil engineer from Sweden–they are apparently good at these things. Why do you need 8 playpens?
Dear Crabby: You’re pretty big on safety–so I thought I would ask what kinds of safety equipment you would recommend for something like breaking glass? Fore! E. Nordegren, Isleworth, FLA
Dear E. Nordegren, Anytime you are striking something–such as a hammer and nail–there exists the possibility that debris can either come off the tool you are using–or the item you are striking. Eye protection should be used in any situation like that. Often times–nails can have tiny gnarls and slag left over from the manufacturing process that aren’t part of the actual nail head. These can be struck–and come off the nail at a high rate of speed, and they are often hot from the friction of the strike. It seems like a long shot–but these things end up in your eye a lot more than you would think. Any time you use a tool, or are making loud noises–if you do it once–and it’s loud: Get some ear protection. Despite how goofy these things look–there are actually some very fashionable eye, and ear wear out there if you are that worried about fashion. (Which I would imagine you might be).