16.12.12

Lasko Ceramic Tower Heater with Digital Display and Remote Control Review


Lasko Metal Products was founded by Mr. Henry Lasko in 1906. Throughout the years, their product line was adapted to meet the ever changing consumer needs. Today, Lasko has been designing and building stylish and reliable home comfort products in the U.S. and around the world for more than 100 years. The company has become a market leader in portable fans and ceramic fans and heaters including room fans, high velocity fans, ceramic, low-profile heaters and a lot more.


As the winter months are coming, saving up on gas or electric bill for your heating needs is what the Lasko 755320 Ceramic Tower Heater is all about. Imagine heating up a room only as needed and you also have the ability to transport it to the next room where you would use it next. With its multi-function remote control, you could adjust the heat and the settings with ease from a distance. Perfect when you are relaxing on the couch or while in bed. One function that sets this apart from other heaters is the oscillating action. This prevents creating a single hotspot while leaving other areas cold. It distributes the heat throughout the room efficiently. What's more, it is super quiet as compared to other heaters in its class. Great for use in the bedroom and in the office as well.
The Lasko 755320 Ceramic Tower Heater comes equipped with standard digital controls for both the unit and remote control, an elongated ceramic heating element, and a powerful fan for great air penetration that delivers optimum warmth throughout your entire room. It also has acarry handle for easy to transport to most rooms in your home. It also includes a programmable thermostat and an 8-hour timer. One downside of this tower heater is while it is in oscillating mode, you have to wait for it to align with your remote before you could change any settings. A small inconvenience as compared to the savings you will get and the efficiency that this tower heater has to offer.

17.9.12

Alternative Ways of Composting


Composting Using Plastic Bag
A large plastic bag like those large garbage can liner makes for a quick and easy composter. Simply fill the bag with leaves, add a gallon of water, a shovelful of soil, and a pint of lawn fertilizer ("weed and feed" types are not recommended!) or liquid plant food. Store in the garage over winter, and by the time spring comes,  you'll have a bag full of ripen compost.

Composting With Garbage Can 
The average American family throws away three-quarters of a ton of food each year. These kitchen scraps should be placed in a garbage can and converted into humus for the garden. Garbage can composting is the solution for those in the urban or suburban areas who want to compost kitchen wastes, but have little room. The following suggestions for making your own compost in a garbage can come from The Environmental Education Committee of Rochester, New York:
1. Use a galvanized (or plastic) garbage can that has a lid that has a snug fit, then punch several small holes in the bottom.
2. Add about 3 inches of good soil.
3. Place some "angleworms" or "red worms" (referred to as manure worms or red wrigglers). These are optional, but it does take longer breaking down the compost without them.
4. Put the can on top of two cement blocks with something underneath to catch any liquid that drains out. This liquid is generally odorless and may be used on houseplants, tubbed plants, or garden plants.
5. This is where you throw in kitchen wastes like potato peelings, coffee grounds, lettuce leaves, or tea leaves.
6. For every addition of fresh garbage, cover it with a sprinkling of soil or shredded leaves, grass clippings, newspapers, sawdust and the like.
7. Sprinkling on a little liquid plant food from time to time will fortify the compost. Odor is generally lacking. When coffee grounds are added, they function as a natural deodorant. If odor develops, shredded newspaper takes care of it almost immediately. Grease maybe tolerated in controlled amounts, and so will meat scraps. Chicken bones and egg shells can be added to add calcium. Even when they don't break down right away, they will go down into the soil as filler.
Be mindful of onions and onion skins. The worms will not like them. They do, however, tolerate citrus skins in moderate amounts.

A regular-size garbage can is enough for a family of four with small children. Some start with one can during the fall, then add another if the first one get full before spring, then dump and start over again. Others use two cans simultaneously. The garage is a good area to keep the can. If you have worms in your can, it’s ideal to store them in an area that has above-freezing temperatures.


DIY Compost Tips



3.9.12

How to Make Homemade Soap


Try making your own homemade soap using this traditional homemade soap recipe:

Materials needed:

2 quarts melted lard, lukewarm
1 quart cold soft water (rain water or spring water)
1 can (12 oz) Red Devil Lye or pure sodium hydroxide

Procedure:

  • Dissolve the lye or sodium hydroxide in 1 quart water in a bowl.  Stir until the mixture becomes lukewarm. Touch the outside of the bowl to determine if the mixture is warm enough.  
  • Slowly stir in the lye-water into the melted lard. Be careful not to splash the mixture on your skin.  
  • Continuously mix the solution until it has a pudding-like consistency.  
  • When you can see spoon trails across the top as you stir, the mixture is ready to be poured into the molds.  
  • Pour the solution into prepared molds and leave overnight.  
  • The following day, cut the dried mixture into bars but keep them in the mold for two more days.
  • On the third day, removed the soap from the mold and stack them, leaving enough space between bars to air dry.
  • Allow your soap to dry for two to three weeks prior to using.


You may also wish to read on other articles about homemade items:

Homemade Hair Care Treatments

Homemade Remedies for Head Lice

23.8.12

How to Measure Light for Indoor Gardens

Before the special agricultural lamps came about, we measured light for plants in foot-candles. Webster defines a foot-candle as, "A unit for measuring illumination: it is equal to the quantity of direct light thrown by one international candle on a square foot of surface every part of which is one foot away." Light readings can now be made with special meters, or, if you work with a photographic light meter, you can easily get on the internet and look for a conversion table which will help you ascertain the amount of foot-candles your plants obtain.

For those experienced enough, it has not necessary to bother with 4 foot-candle readings. They can tell by the appearance of the plants if they are getting the suitable amount of light, and you can learn to judge this too. If plants need more foot-candles to grow to better proportions and to flower profusely, these plants can simply be put closer to the lights or the lights can be burned longer every day. Foot-candles are meaningless as a guide to the effectiveness of agricultural lamps. Light meters measure all light, and the agricultural lamps are lacking in green and yellow spectrum. The spectral energy distribution of these lamps is measured in laboratories using a spectro-radiometer. In our gardens we measure the spectral energy through the condition of our plants, moving them closer or farther from the lights as growth indicates.


 Other resources on this topic:

 Basic Fluorescent Light Setups for Indoor Gardening

How Much Light Does Your Indoor Garden Need?

Plant Lights For Your Office Indoor Garden

14.8.12

Aquatic or Water Gardens and Aquariums


For those who want an indoor garden but do not like to deal with soil and potting, decorate with beautiful greenery growing in water in the form of an aquatic garden. Nearly all of the plants that grow nicely in water gardens are the low-light types, but all of the water gardens grow really lush when they get at least four hours of artificial light every day, or when given an occasional visit under the lights.

image via Wikipedia
Vases, shells, decorative bottles, brandy snifters, or glass bricks with openings in them offer suitable and interesting containers. Philodendron, english ivy, dracaena, pickaback (tolmiea), nephthytis, pothos, Chinese evergreen (aglaonema), and coleus are a few of the plants that flourish in water. The plectranthus, a relative of the coleus, has a trailing habit that's nicely suited to water culture.

Take out the plant from its pot, crumble the soil out, then rinse the roots in running lukewarm water. Non-rusting needle holders would keep big plants standing in containers. Stones and small shells may hold others in place. Little pieces of charcoal will preserve the fresh water smell. Colored glass, plastic bubbles, or bright beads add decorative touches to clear glass containers. These truly bring sparkling translucent color under agricultural lamps like Gro-Lux. If you raise tropical fish and aquatic greenery makes up part of the underwater picture, place a fluorescent or incandescent light on top of the tank and the plants will take on new life and vigor. A lot of the fish take on fantastic coloring when lit with agricultural lamps.

A 10-gallon aquarium tank would be lighted adequately with one or two 25-watt incandescent showcase lights or a 14-watt fluorescent. Several hobbyists believe they get the best results from warm white fluorescents. If the aquarium is located in a cool, dark place, burn the lights around eight hours a day. If it is in a sunny area or if algae forms too quickly, bring down the size of the lights or the number of light hours.

Waterscaping a fluorescent-lighted aquarium can be a really exciting. Right from the start there is this fascination while you select from the host of suitable plants, most having strange-sounding names. For instance, there is cryp-tocoryne, sword plant, vallisneria (eel grass), sagittaria (arrowhead), cabomba (fanwort), myriophyllum (milfoil), nitella, water sprite, hairgrass, anacharis (elodea), duckweed, banana plant, hornwort, and bacopa.

Aquarium Stands: How to Choose the Best

7.8.12

How and When to Fertilize Plants in Your Indoor Garden


Fertilizing plants is almost a ritual with some growers. Some just do it methodically at stated intervals without much regard for the individual plant and its needs. Usually, growing plants flourish with biweekly feedings of soluble fertilizer. Any well-known brands like Blossom Booster, fish emulsion, Ra-Pid-Gro, Hyponex, Plant Marvel, or Ortho are good. Before you fertilize, check the top-soil first to determine that it is moist. Fertilizer poured onto dry soil could bum the feeder roots and the leaves may droop over the edge of the pot. Never fertilizer plants during any period of rest or dormancy.



Some growers prefer to alternate types of fertilizer, using a chemical for one feeding, an organic type for the next. For instance, you could alternate Ra-Pid-Gro and Atlas Fish Emulsion.
A lot of growers report great success using Blue Whale, a mixture of shredded moss, seaweed, and ground whale parts. Simply sprinkle this on the topsoil, then water it in.

Other related reads on indoor plant management:

Effective Ways to Water and Fertilize Your Indoor Plants

How Much Light Does Your Indoor Garden Need?



Watering and Fertilizing Your Indoor Garden


Learning to water plants properly is something you truly have to discover for yourself. How much water a plant requires and how often it needs watering is dependent on the type and size of plant, the pot it is growing in, the soil, temperature, and humidity.

Gift plants like hydrangea, calceolaria and cyclamen needs copious watering. An ideal way to do this is by soaking them weekly in a bucket of water, then daily watering. Cacti and other succulents require less water as compared to thin-leaved plants. Flowering plants growing in pots need watering frequently than plants of the same size growing in bigger pots. Plants growing in clay pots however, need watering more often than those in ceramic, plastic, or metal pots. For plants growing in hot, dry air need watering more often than those in cool, moist air. Do note that sandy soil dries out faster than clay soil. Soil that is rich in humus, like leaf mold or peat moss holds water well and should never be permitted to become completely dry that it shrinks from the pot sides. This is damaging to the plant and the soil is hard to hydrate.
image credit
You can get a watering gauge that will help you judge a plant's moisture needs. Stick the point in the soil and reading the top of the gauge. The old reliable rule still holds true though, "Touch the topsoil and if it feels dry, it's time to water." Abide by this rule for a while, and before you know it you'll be able to judge moisture needs just by the look of the growing medium at the surface. Until you become acquainted with your plants' water requirements, test plants like African violets, other gesneriads, and miniature roses, among others, by poking your finger almost a half inch into the soil. If it feels dry at this level, you can be sure that it's time to water.

Always use room-temperature water and water thoroughly from the top or bottom. You may alternate also, watering from the top one time, from the bottom the next. If you grow several plants, you can save time by keeping them in a waterproof tray of metal or plastic. There are handy gadgets for watering plants growing on high shelves. Use a watering aid by setting up a complete siphon set up, with a pail hung from a hook in the basement ceiling. A slender plastic tube attached to the pail equipped with cutoff makes for an easy start and stop operation.

Avoid spilling water on the crowns of budded gloxinias, calceolarias, African violets, or plants similar in habit, since rot may set in. Clean furry leaves using a soft camel's-hair brush or you can wash the leaves in the sink with tepid water. This is likewise a good treatment for all smooth-leaved plants. If you particularly like highly polished leaves, keep them glossy using a leaf polishing liquid or products that can give you similar effect.



© 2012 Tip Writer

9.5.12

Patio Planters: The Mayne Square Polyethylene Fairfield Patio Planter


Growing your garden in a patio is the favorable choice especially if you lack the space for plants and flowers. For this purpose, The Mayne Square Polyethylene Fairfield Patio Planter is perfect.  It can conveniently fit most sizes of porches, patios, balconies, or decks. Blending the planter with your patio decor will be easy since it has a traditional framed-panel design with decorative molding on the top and bottom.  It is suitable for both indoor gardening and outdoor gardening, too.



Watering your plants is easy since this planter is configured with a modern sub-irrigation system that stores the water in the base of the planter, thus cutting down the frequency of watering chores. The built-in water source boosts healthy plant growth by aiding the roots in water absorption as needed with the help of the troughs in the base of the planter. This gives more time admiring your plants and flowers and less time tending to your plants.



This lovely square planter is constructed using high-grade polyethylene, a long-lasting, low-maintenance material that can withstand the different seasons. The planter has an appearance like that of wood but does not require upkeep that outdoor wooden planters demand, like painting and re-sealing.

Pros
Weather Resistant
Attractive Design
Solid construction
Easy To Secure
Sophisticated Looks

Cons
Water draining can be slow
Needs extra scrubbing for cleaning

There are three colors to choose from: White, Black, and Clay.  This planter can be bought with a discounted price at 20% off through this link below:



images courtesy of Hayneedle.com







10.4.12

Home and Garden Products from Taylor Gifts


A place to shop for home organizers and other items for your home and garden is Taylor Gifts, an online store specializing in mail order catalog business since 1952.  Here you'll find  a large selection of gadgets,  novelties, as-seen-on-TV items and many other products for the home and for personal organization.  Over five decades, Taylor Gifts has established a loyal customers follwing in and outside USA.  Taylor Gifts website offers a number of items to fit all types of shopping preferences and budgets.  Browsing items on their online store is easy because of their well organized assortment of products.>>> MORE



The product categories are grouped into the following:


Gifts & Novelties
Home D├ęcor
Houseware
Home Organizers
Kitchen
Outdoor & Patio
Personal Care
Lighting
Cleaning
Pets
Auto
As Seen on TV

5.4.12

DIY Painting: Choosing Your Paint Primer


Paint primers are formulated to produce a solid base, seal stains, and help bond the top coat to the wall. Both alkyd and latex primers provide good coverage and do a great job. Which one you choose will depend on the top coat you have selected.

Likewise, go with good quality, brand-name primers and paints, like Sherwin-Williams, Pratt and Lambert, Benjamin Moore, or Pittsburgh Paints. Better yet, visit a professional paint supplier and talk to the knowledgeable employees. They can give you useful tips and help you get the paint system (primer and top coat) that will work best in your climate and for the job you're doing.

Flickr image by Aine D
Here are some important priming tips:

If the walls and ceilings were heavily prepped and the first coat did not do the job well and there's a light bleed through, apply a second coat.
• Some climates, especially those near salt water, need a second primer coat.
• Closely work with your paint supplier. Some primers are best for wetter rooms like bathrooms and laundries. Meaning, one primer doesn't necessarily fit all conditions.

Older homes that were constructed without vapor barriers will need a primer that seals and stops moisture from getting under the paint and causing peeling.

Plaster walls and drywall are different and normally require different primers. Consult your paint dealer for the ideal type that matches your walls and conditions.

Interior wood trim may also need different primers. Your paint dealer can also lead you in the right direction in this area. If you have primed over unpainted drywall or wood trim, you'll probably have to lightly sand after the primer has dried. Primer tends to raise the fibers or grain so a light sanding is needed before painting the top coat. Make sure to run a tack cloth over the sanded area so no dust is left on the surface.

Don't spot prime problem areas on walls that you've had to go back and work on. Those areas would often show through. Correct the problems and then recoat the whole wall. Luckily, ceilings are more forgiving and never show spot priming as much. There are also special paints developed for ceilings that cling to textured surfaces better than wall paints. Check with your paint supplier for what works best on your kind of ceiling.
If you prefer a darker top coat, tint the primer coat to match. It could save you having to apply a second top coat.

Selecting the Right Top Coat for House Painting Projects

© 2012 Tip Writer


Selecting the Right Top Coat for House Painting Projects


A visit to the home center or paint supplier may be confusing. There are scores of paint types, methods of application, and special effects to select from. The following suggestions will help you sort out the confusion:

Choose a high quality latex primer and top coat. That means you'll spend $30 to $45 per gallon. Top quality paint applies better, lasts longer, and looks better compared to cheap discount paint. Consider it an investment in your home's value.



Gloss and semi-gloss paints are more stain-resistant and washable, but highlight any wall problems. Flat paints are excellent for living and dining rooms. Eggshell gloss is a nice all-around finish for hallways, kids' rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms. 

• Some professionals feel flat paint is the best way to go for ceilings, others love a bright white gloss that reflects more light into the room. If your home tends to be on the dark side, gloss ceilings reflect more light and makes the room appear larger.
• Plan on two top coats for the best looking job and figure on about 400 square feet per gallon. Also, be sure you have about a half gallon left over for touch-ups.
• If you live in a dry climate, you might want to put in an additive to slow down drying time and make the paint more workable. Adding a few ounces per gallon of Floetrol or another similar additive can make the jobgo easier.

Go over those mildew-inhibiting paints if you live in a humid area, and also for baths, kitchens, and laundry rooms. These paints will not kill mildew that's already present, but they'll keep mildew from forming later on.

When you've decided on the paint system, the following step is to decide on the colors and tints. For a few homeowners this is the project's fun part, for others it's divorce material. Fortunately, there are six shortcuts that will help you decide:
1. Take your time and look into builder's open houses to get ideas of what's currently voguish in your area.
2. Consider color schemes in home magazines and check out some helpful websites
3. Gather up paint chips of colors you like and narrow it down to those that you believe will go with your home's other colors.
4. Keep in mind that color choice should take into consideration your home's architecture, ceiling height, and exterior and interior colors.
5. When you have narrowed it down to three or four colors, get pint samples from the paint store and roll four foot swaths on one of the walls you are planning on painting. Live with it for a few days and see which color grabs you.
6. Don't be afraid of making a big mistake. What's the worst that can happen? You could always repaint!


© 2012 Tip Writer


4.4.12

DIY Painting: Steps in Painting a Room


House painting can be fun and rewarding, especially when it's all done and you step back and see outstanding results. Many people who say they hate painting and don't want anything to do with it may ultimately admit that they once tried to paint a room and it turned out terrible.

The joy of living in a well-decorated home, that feeling of pride when company comments on how nice your home looks, and, of course, the boost a great interior gives your market value—these are great reasons to learn how to do a super job with brush and roller.

photo by  Chance Agrella
Fortunately, terrible paint jobs don't have to happen, and they won't if you learn and apply the easy steps to follow. Admittedly, there's some grunt work involved, but the end result is more than worth the effort.
Actually, a great paint job is one of the easiest and best things you can do to increase the value of your home. If you're thinking of selling in the near future, you'll want to get started on the painting about ninety days prior to planting a For Sale sign, so it doesn't turn into a rush job.

However, if you've just bought a home and are looking at dismal or uninspiring contractor- white walls, this section will show you how to change your environment for the better.

First, plan on about two days per room. No, you can't knock out painting the house over the weekend; not even the Labor Day weekend. Even though slumlords and painters with power sprayers can coat a new house in a day, that's not for you. So allocate the time to do it right, which means a room at a time.

Basically, painting a room consists of three parts:
1.         Prepping the Room. This encompasses getting the drywall in perfect condition, because a paint job can be no better than the prep work. Remove or mask all the fixtures, doorknobs, and whatever you can't remove from the room.
2.         Priming the Walls. A great-looking top coat starts with a great primer coat.
3.         Applying the Top Coat. This is the main event. Using good technique, tools, and paint will guarantee you a lot of compliments at your next party.

© 2012 Tip Writer 

How to Make Your Own Wildflower Garden



A wildflower garden isn't for everyone but may add something unique to your landscape. Most wildflowers are not hard to grow once you understand their nature. You could start a wildflower bed two different ways: 1) buying plants or seeds from commercial growers; 2) getting them from their native sites. Remember that many are protected by law and cannot be gathered from native sites unless construction projects will be uprooting them.

Great care must be taken when digging wildflowers or they will not survive. A lot of wildflower species have been depleted due to careless uprooting. Your best bet is to purchase hardy wildflowers from a nursery. Nursery-grown plants are generally better suited to your garden than those dug up in the wild.


Success rides planting wildflowers in the same conditions under which they grow naturally. For instance, marsh marigolds, swamp iris, and cattails like boggy conditions. Arbutus, goldenrod, most asters, and daisies, and black-eyed Susans like poor, dry soil. Do not try to grow woodsy shade lovers in the sun. Do not plant sun lovers in the shade and observe the conditions around your home before you try to start a wildflower garden.

A lot of wildflowers like shade and humusy soil. The north side of the house where few tame flowers would grow can be turned into a wildflower bed if the soil is prepared to resemble conditions where shade-loving plants are grown by nature.

Study wildflower catalogs and reference books before planting. Flowers that grow naturally in wooded areas love generous amounts of humus in the soil, and moisture in hot weather.

Spring is perhaps the best time to start a wildflower garden, although some plants can be moved during fall. Success rate is high when moving early-flowering species like Dutchman's Breeches in fall. The secret is to maintain the soil moist after transplanting, particularly during a dry fall.

Warning! Be careful about putting wildflowers to your front lawn. Some neighbors may object to the "no one lives here look" of a wildflower front yard, and city officials occasionally frown upon wildflower yards and have passed ordinances forbidding them.

© 2012 Athena Goodlight

1.4.12

Lawn Care: Dealing With Lawn Problems


Lawns are prey to more than one hundred different diseases, although they're not likely to be severe except on bent grass and highly managed lawns. No single chemical can cure all of them, and recommendations change quickly, so consult your local garden center or state agricultural college for the up-to-date recommended remedy. But prevention is favored over treatment. Most lawns are not so easily damaged by diseases if not over-stimulated by high feeding.

Lawn Of Puerto Rico by Darrell Goode
Luckily, newer turfgrass varieties have been bred with at least an amount of resistance to diseases. A generation ago almost every bluegrass lawn was victim of excessive leaf spot during spring. Now almost all of the new varieties withstand this disease. A mixture of several varieties should provide you a reasonable disease-proof turf without using fungicidal sprays.

Among the latest innovations in lawn care is the use of endophytes—"contaminated" turf grasses that survive extreme droughtconditions better than other grasses and even kill insects. An endophyte can be either bacteria or fungi that live inside another plant without causing disease. These endophytes can be found in broadleaf plants and grasses all over the world. How endophytes work is a mystery, but they're believed to be fungi that create toxins which disrupt the biology of insects. Plant breeders hope to harness these endophytes ("End-o-fights") as important tools in bringing down insect population.

Non-Chemical Lawns
The trend toward non-chemical lawns is spreading. In the past, the suburban picture perfect lawn drenched in toxic herbicides and pesticides did more than kill bugs—it made a lot of people sick, primarily because of careless application. Environmentalists, committed gardeners, pest control people, and producers of alternative lawn-care products have shown that organic ideas spread faster than crabgrass. News wire services have carried stories about non-chemical lawns and many writers narrate horror stories experienced by some homeowners. Because of these problems, there has been a boom in sales for oldline organic gardening products.

Presently, about 15% of U.S. households use commercial lawn services that apply pesticides, says the Environmental Protection Agency. It estimates that another 20 to 25% of households are do-it-yourselfers, also employing pesticides on their lawns.

Chemical Lawns
While lawns have many turf diseases, there's a ray of hope that a lot of these diseases can be checked with systemic fungicides. These are applied to the grass and are absorbed via the root system. At the present time, the composition of fungicides shifts frequently. Hence it is best to consult with your state college of agriculture. The systemics give great control of Sclerotinia dollar spot, fusarium, smut, pink patch, snow mold, and others. Some golf course diseases are checked marginally, if at all, by the systemic fungicides.

Grass Seed Mixtures for Gardens and Lawns


Natural Grass Lawns Versus Artificial Grass Lawns

28.3.12

How to Choose Grass Seeds for Lawns


image via wikimedia commons

What type of grass seed would give you the kind of lawn you like best? Generally, a mixture of a few different types of grass seeds makes a better lawn than does seed of an exclusive variety. All varieties have advantages and disadvantages. Some are more drought-resistant and stay green long after other varieties have dried and turned brown in summer. Others are likely to die if cut down too short and therefore should never be used by those who want a "crew-cut" lawn. Still other varieties are quite susceptible to plant diseases. One variety should be planted either alone or only with members of its own family or grasses or it gets crowded out.
Read the label on the package before you purchase any grass seed mixture. And don't let the names of grasses on the label confuse you.

Most grass seed mixes are classified as having seeds of the following:
1. persistent, fine-textured grasses
2. coarse or temporary grasses
3. white clover

The coarse or temporary or "hay" grasses won't give the type of lawn most people like. As the word "temporary" implies, these seeds serve best when a lawn is wanted rapidly to cover the soil for one season until suitable preparations can be made for seeding a permanent lawn. These coarse and temporary grasses include tall fescue, timothy, meadow fescue, and redtop, and the ryegrasses, including Italian rye, domestic rye, perennial rye, and common rye.

Persistent, fine-textured grasses will, as their name indicates, give the kind of permanent, fine-textured lawn home gardeners love to have. The primary varieties are Kentucky bluegrass, red fescue (including Chewings and other varieties), colonial bentgrass, and rough bluegrass (also known as Poa trivialis).


What Grass Mixture is Best for Lawns?


© 2012 Athena Goodlight

27.3.12

How to Find Electrical Contractors


If your home's electrical system calls for an upgrade, it's important that it's done according to the national electrical code (NEC) or your local electrical codes. Naturally, you can cut costs by having your brother-in-law, who got a C in high school shop, to do the work. But in the future, that can come back to bite you. How?
1. If the wiring wasn't up to code and you have a fire, it may affect your insurance settlement.
2. When you choose to sell your home, the home inspector, appraiser, or lender may demand copies of permits, inspections, or work orders.
3. Substandard wiring could prolong a sale, kill a sale, or force you to bring down your asking price—often by more than what it would have cost you to have it done professionally in the first place.
4. Electrical wiring is not something you cut corners on. You and your home's safety are very important.

The first step to finding an electrician or contractor is to go ahead and ask around for referrals, and check with contractors, building inspectors, and Realtors. The goal is to wind up with a short list of three contractors (licensed electricians) who would look at your home and give you a detailed written bid.
Flickr image by CoCreatr
Incidentally, one way to cut costs is to look for a licensed electrician (verify they have a current and active license) who works for a contractor, builder, or even an inspector, and who does jobs on the side for a little extra income. But hiring one of these people does not mean you cut back on the detailed paperwork. Like with any business deal, the paperwork is your only protection.

Irrespective of whom you hire, here is a list of items you need to have in writing:

A detailed written description of the work agreed on. An itemized list of materials that will be used: number and cost of outlets, receptacles, wiring, breaker boxes, and so on. You can also have the electrician supply you a list of materials, which you yourself can then buy. In this manner, you only pay for installation, control the quality and cost of materials, and always know you aren't being overcharged. A start date and completion date on the paperwork.

Don't pay for the job up front. If it's an extensive remodel, you may prefer to set up a payment schedule as certain parts of the job are completed. Lastly, check with your homeowner's insurance agent and make sure you are covered in case the electrician or any helpers are injured inside your property.

As a precaution, always keep in mind that electrical components wear out, malfunction, and are misused. Sadly, the potential for serious injuries or worse is high, so it's crucial to stay of top of problems and rectify them as soon as possible.

More about home electrical info:




© 2012 Athena Goodlight

9.3.12

Where to Get Water for Salt Water Aquariums


image via Wikipedia

There are two basic ways of supplying your aquarium with water where in the fishes and invertebrates can live. The first way is to utilize natural sea water which you could collect yourself; the second is to use one of the pre-packed marine water mixes available on the market. When you collect your own water, there are certain things to remember. You must get the cleanest water possible, which generally demands traveling by boat out into the ocean and loading your containers there. The containers must be of such material so as not to pollute the water. Metal buckets, for instance, should be avoided. There are numerous types of 5-gallon plastic or glass containers that are great for this purpose. Glass is safer chemically than plastic, but there is the disadvantage of it being fragile; additionally, glass carboys usually have metal caps. New plastic containers must be cured by filling them up with sea water, allowing them stand for a few weeks, and then dumping out the water. This takes out the "newness." A lot of containers don't need this curing, but if you're not sure it's better to be safe and do it this way. You may also check your water source in this manner. After several weeks of storage you could test the water to see what changes have came about. If you end up with a smelly batch of water you should locate a different source. Once your containers are safe for use and the water source is all right, you can start collecting for your aquaria. Collect more water than you require for your present set-up of tanks. It is always good to have adequate water for a complete change in all your tanks. If this isn't practical, enough extra water for a complete change in at least one or two of the tanks is ideal. Should anything go wrong, you can switch the fishes and invertebrates from the foul water into clean water right away. Use common sense in collecting the water. For example, don't draw the water from right next to the motor, exhaust outlets, or other areas where oil or grease may contaminate it.

Because natural sea water bear living organisms, it is best to filter it before storing. This can be done just by pouring it through a clean handkerchief. You will be astonished by the material, living or otherwise, that stays behind in the handkerchief. The living material is largely plankton, which is present in almost all sea water in greater or lesser quantities. A bit of the handkerchief residue placed in a small watch-glass and viewed under a low power microscope is a wonderful sight. There may be larval forms of numerous animals including fishes, crustaceans, echinoderms, worms, as well as eggs of different species or fully grown animals like copepods. Each sample might contain something new and excitingly different. Much of the plankton would die in the water and pollute it if not taken out. If the plankton is bountiful, the water will sooner or later become too foul for the fishes or invertebrates to live in it and will have to be thrown away.

Storage is usually accomplished by placing the containers in a darkened area. This keeps the aquarium plants from reproducing. It is very discouraging to find that your supply of clean water has become green from an algal bloom induced by a high nutrient level (the dead plankton supplying the nutrients) and plenty of light for photosynthesis.

"Natural" sea water has been provided to marine aquarists in the past, but more recently the cost of shipping the filtered water has become prohibitive when likened to the rather safe and easy method of mixing prepackaged salts. The concept of setting up a tank of Red Sea fishes, for instance, using water collected from the Red Sea itself sounds great but is impractical and not even needed.

© 2012 Tip Writer

3.3.12

Basics to Know on Salt Water Aquariums


Maintaining some of the exotic marine creatures that live in the world's oceans in your very own home aquaria has been a dream of several individuals. This dream could have been brought on by seeing these animals on a vacation trip like snorkeling on a reef, on a visit to one of the huge commercial aquariums that have on exhibit tanks of marine fishes or invertebrates, or while looking at the marine tanks in a local pet shop. The feeling is normally enhanced by visits to friends or acquaintances who have already succeeded in setting up beautiful marine aquaria. When the urge to really do something about this dream ultimately becomes strong enough, there is the devouring of book after book on the subject together with visits to the local aquarium shops that sell marine fishes and invertebrates to check out a few of the species that are available and to price some of the gear needed to get one started.


The individual who gets involved with the aquaria hobby isn't necessarily a "graduate" of freshwater fishkeeping, although more often than not, this is often the case. As a matter of fact, some fresh­water aquarists are mainly interested in breeding their fishes and could care less about the marine hobby, where there is little to no chance of spawning success. But with the in­creasing count of successful spawnings in the marine field, even these aquarists are being drawn in to saltwater animals. The best attraction of the marine aquarium, nevertheless, does not seem to be the likelihood of spawning the animals but is a mixture of the beauty of the animals themselves and their interesting habits or behavior. There is still a challenge for those who want to tackle the more difficult species, and for those who have little or no experience there are species that are rather easy to keep. The array of animal life perfect for keeping in home aquaria is so vast there is, beyond any doubt something for everyone.

Are the effort, time, and expense worth it? No one but you can answer that question. Is it conceivable to put a value on the feeling of satisfaction and contentment you get while sitting in front of your own marine aquarium, housing strange and beautiful fishes or invertebrates, watching their antics and proudly showing them off to your friends? Again, you alone can decide on this matter.

© 2012 Tip Writer

19.2.12

How to Clean Roofs and Gutters



Gutters and downspouts should not be neglected.  Annual maintenance or repair si needed if these are to perform the task for which they were built. Gutters and downspouts need to be checked and cleaned out each year apart from the periodical minor repairs and adjustments they require. Most gutter cleaning jobs are simple and require no special equipment or tools.

When tall trees are located close to the house, it is an absolute must that the roof and gutter undergo cleanout at least once a year — ideally in autumn after the leaves have fallen. Cleaning the gutter is most easily accomplished using an old whisk broom or a stiff brush, and may need to be repeated numerous times to make leaves fall continuously.  Piled up debris will clog up the downspouts or dam the gutters, causing rainwater back up and overflow.

To keep downspouts from clogging, the opening at the top should be secured with a special wire strainer which fits into the tip of the downspout. This permits water to flow through, but keeps leaves and other trash from entering the opening. Remember that this, too, should be checked regularly. Accumulated wet leaves could entangle against the outer part of the strainer and prevent water from passing through.

A better way to keep junk out of the gutter is to cover the whole length with strips of 1/4-inch mesh hardware material (a coarse screen wire). One side is pressed up under the lowest row of roof shingles and the other edge is fastened to the outer rim of the gutter using sheet metal screws. This acts like a "strainer" over the whole length of gutter to keep leaves and debris out.

To simplify installations of this form, ready-made gutter guards are available in a lot of hardware stores. These do not require any cutting to make them fit for they have specially made clips which can be snapped quickly into position. They come in various lengths and in rolls which you cut to your desired measurements.

© 2012 Athena Goodlight

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22.1.12

Effective and Inexpensive House Cleaning Materials


Household cleaning products and gadgets need not be expensive to get good results. Listed below are ordinary items which can double as cleaning agents.

Bathtub cleaner
Have a plastic bottle filled with diluted dishwashing liquid near your fiberglass bathtub enclosure. To get rid of the soapy film after you shower, sponge on the diluted liquid and rinse. It would leave a beautiful shine.

Brush-off
When you grate orange or lemon rind, use a new toothbrush to make the grater clean and do away with waste.

Crystal clear
Wash crystal prisms from chandeliers safely and promptly in a French fry basket. Just dip them multiple times in a solution of hot water and detergent till they're clean. Rinse them in clear water and drain in the basket.

Dishwasher Cleaner
Having hard water in your home calls for a weekly cleaning of your dishwasher. Run it through a cycle with vinegar. Rather than wasting the cycle, pull together all your glass knickknacks and seldom-used bar glasses and run them through as well.

Eyeglass cleaner
Keep a small spray bottle of glass cleaner with your cosmetics and every morning clean your glasses after putting on your makeup. Works like a charm!

Grout Mildew Remover
Grout stains made by mildew can not be removed by detergent alone. Instead, scrub grout using an old toothbrush dipped in a solution of 1 part laundry bleach to 4 parts water. Rinse thoroughly and wipe dry.

Quick Duster
The most manageable dust cloth would be an old potholder shaped like an oven mitt. Just turn it inside out, spray the furniture using your favorite dusting product and wipe. For especially tough spots, spray both sides of the mitt and rub your hand on all corners or in little crevices. Cotton work gloves does the trick as well.

Garage oil cleanup
Cat litter is wonderful for absorbing oil drips on the garage floor or the driveway. It is also very much cheaper than commercial oil absorbents.
Pour dry laundry detergent on oil spots. Place a small amount of water to make a paste and allow it to sit. The next day you will be able to wash the stains away quite easily. For more stubborn stains, employ a wire brush to help get oil and dirt out of the crevices.

Glass Door Cleaner
The glass doors on fireplace screens gather loads soot. To clean the glass, use an oven cleaner. Spray on the glass, allow to sit around 20 minutes and wipe it clean.

Jewelry rinse
When you're done cleaning jewelry using your favorite product, place the jewelry in a fine tea strainer and rinse every item well under the faucet without worrying of losing tiny pieces down the drain.

Lemon shine
Don't discard squeezed lemon slices just yet. Rub them on faucet fixtures, rinse and dry. They make chrome sparkle!

Nylon netting
There are several uses for nylon netting: as a dishrag, a pot scrubber, a lint-remover. Another use for the stiff but not too abrasive material is to speed up the removal of ice when you're defrosting the refrigerator. Just dip the netting in hot water first.

Soft scrubber
Use tiny squares of leftover carpeting to wash heavily textured plaster walls. The thick pile cleans the deep uneven surfaces without tearing up and is soft enough to scrub without scratching.

Squeaky clean
If you're using a sinkful of hot water to rinse the dishes, add a capful of vinegar to cut excessive grease or soap. It will give your dishes a clean, sparkling look.
Wash plastic-laminated counter and vanity tops using detergent and wipe dry. Remove stubborn stains by rubbing them with a damp cloth dipped in baking soda. If this does not do it, wipe with a cloth dipped in laundry bleach (test first to be sure this won't harm the top's color). Rinse well.

Vase Cleaning
If a favorite vase has become muddy inside and it's impossible to get your hand in to clean it, you can try this: Fill the vase with warm water, put in a denture tablet and let it sit. The vase will be clean very fast.

Window Cleaning
Never wash windows in direct sunlight; it tends to make them streak. Most commercially available glass cleaners work well. Squeeze the sponge almost dry before washing and prevent dripping water onto painted wood around the window. Stubborn streaks on glass can usually be removed using solution of 1 part vinegar to 5 parts water. Rinse and wipe dry.

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By Tip Writer

Cleaning Walls, Upholstery, and Furniture at Home


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House cleaning can be an overwhelming matter to think about. We may wish to shrug and put it off until the next week, or next month or next year. However, this is a reality each one of us needs to face. Do the cleaning task portion by portion to make the task easier. Here are cleaning tips for walls, upholstery, and carpets:

Interior walls
The paint job you imagined necessary might not be after all! To clean painted walls, clean with a vacuum to remove dust and wash them using a sponge dipped in a mild detergent solution. Wring out excess water and rinse the sponge when it gets dirty. Always wash walls starting from the bottom up to keep detergent from running down onto a dirty surface, creating streaks that could be difficult to take out.

Wall coverings
A lot of today's wall coverings can be washed off the same way as painted walls. However, if your wallpaper isn't washable, it can be cleaned using a wad of fresh bread or a dough-type wallpaper cleaner sold in several wall covering stores. Roll the material over the surface of the paper to lift up soil and keep folding it to expose a clean surface.

Upholstered furniture
Use a vacuum to remove dust and dirt from upholstery and clean with a commercial upholstery shampoo. You can also combine 1 part mild dishwashing liquid with 4 parts water and whip to bring out lots of foam. Put on the foam using a brush. Scrub one cushion or section at a time, trying not to wet the fabric more than necessary. Wipe away the foam with damp cloths or blot dry with towels.
A rug-cleaning machine that has a hand nozzle will do an even better job of cleaning upholstery. Shampoo each item by hand as described above, then go over them again with the machine to pull up deeply embedded dirt.

Carpet
To thoroughly get out embedded dirt, use a vacuum having a power-driven rotary brush (vacuums that rely only on suction do not do as good a job). Spots left behind by food or beverages can be removed by rubbing lightly using a cloth dipped in a solution of 1 teaspoon white vinegar and 1 teaspoon dishwashing liquid in 1 quart water. Don't wet the carpet any more than necessary. Blot dry with paper toweling. Greasy stains that are not water-soluble can be wiped clean using a cloth dampened with dry-cleaning solvent. A small plant mister or spray bottle kept filled with liquid rug shampoo and stashed away in a closet near your carpeted rooms makes it easy to spray and wipe up spills and soiled areas at once.

Instead of shuffling furniture from one room to another to shampoo the carpet, you will be able to save time and effort by putting a small plastic bag over each furniture leg and securing it with a rubber band. Then move the furniture aside to shampoo the area and bring back the furniture to its original spot right away; the bags can be taken out after the rug has dried.

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By: Tip Writer © 2012

21.1.12

Interior Home Decorating Ideas and Activities for Winter


Some people live where it's technicolor all year round. But for the rest of those who experience winter, here are some tips for brightening the homes and actually capitalizing on winter without leaving home.


Flowers in Winter
There is nothing like seeing fresh flowers in the middle of the winter to make a house cheerful. Have some small plants with white blossoms and dark green leaves in painted clay pots that sit on shelves in the kitchen and in a rustic basket on your dining table. They are clean and pure and little reminders of living things that make you look forward to spring. If no fresh flowers are available dried flowers will also do. But be sure you had them prepared way ahead.  Here's how to dry flowers.


Touch ups
Take charge of small areas of your house, like window sills and baseboards, and give them all a home makeover. This would put you way ahead of spring when it arrives and you actually would rather be in the garden. Plus, this is among the cheapest ways to improve the look of your house for virtually no effort or money.


Cooking for Later
When it's cold outdoors, use the time to make double batches of dinners that can be stored in the freezer for days when you'd rather do other matters. It's fun to experiment with dishes on winter weekends, and just the heat and aroma from cooking would add warmth and cheer to your home. You could also use the indoor time to get creative with your cooking so you could set a stylish table with a meal to complement it.


Rearranging
Try a new furniture arrangement that could make a room cozier for winter. Place a colorful wool blanket or warm throw to the back of a sofa or chair. Put some books on the coffee table for a spur-of-the moment read on the sofa, while you wrapped in that warm mohair throw.


Begin a New Project
Get all the stuff together, make a place to work, and start a project like a cross-stitch sampler or a needlepoint pillow, or learn to faux paint an old piece of furniture.


Fabric
Most interior designers agree that the quickest and easiest way to totally change the ambiance of a room is to use fabric. Even a really simple, inexpensive fabric can soften a space and add warmth. Ever thought up upholstering walls? It brings a luxurious feeling to a room, covers up flaws, and helps soundproof. It's a classy way to add flair for minimal investment.


Decorator's Touch
Furnishing a brand new house can be overwhelming. A lot of people seek help from professionals. How does a design professional help you create a well-designed, beautifully put-together, and comfortable house that does not look "done"? Firstly, they give you access to showrooms for products, fabrics, and a wide array of colors and styles, sometimes without leaving home. They could help save you pricy mistakes and can give creative ideas for using what you have or solving present house problems.


Plans for the Future
Even when you don't go so far as to redecorate you home, planning to do so can be loads of fun. Make a wish list and keep a scrapbook of cutouts from magazine pages for the things you would like to have or the look you'd like to accomplish if time and money were no object. Gather up swatches of fabrics, paint color chips, and free booklets from home centers.


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© 2011 by Ecapz Tip Writer

10.1.12

The Best Time for Garden Bargain Shopping


Discerning shoppers know that the best garden sale events are held during specific months of the year such as January "white sales," spring sale, and year-end clearance sales. There are also bargains that gardeners and landscapers can look forward to when they focus on similar events on the calendar. March is a great time to shop for bare-root roses; while in June, annual plant prices are being marked down; spring-flowering bulbs are at bargain prices in July; September is a great shopping moment for roses, spring-blooming bulbs, and perennials; and October is generally the best time to buy fruit trees, shade trees, and shrubs at sale prices.

Annual Bargains

If you are bargain shopping for flowers and vegetable annuals, look for short, bushy, and green plants.  Avoid buying those that look "stretched out" and arched dangling lower leaves. Select the most rigid - looking breeds; these will likely endure the stresses of transplanting the most.

Best Deals in Bulbs

When on the lookout for garden plants for sale, find the ones that are huge, smooth, heavy, and firm bulbs. Refuse the ones that have moldy flecks and those that are shriveled or cushy. Also, don't buy bulbs that have already started to sprout.


© Athena Goodlight 

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6.1.12

Woodworking Tool: The Plane



Almost everyone will agree that the hand plane is possibly the most fun woodworking tool. A plane is simply a chisel enclosed a metal or wooden base to make it easier to use both hands and work a lot more quickly, lifting off at each stroke a very thin wood shaving. While using a plane, you can actually start to feel the pleasure of carpentry; the aroma of wood rising towards your nostrils; beautiful curled shavings come up from the blade; the area behind the plane (as long as you're planing along the grain, as you should be) is smoothened and slick.

When about to use the plane, check the blade before adjusting it. You'll find that by taking out the lever cap, the blade may be removed easily. A cap iron is screwed on the blade which rests slightly in back from the sharp edge on the un-beveled side. The cap iron serves as a planing deflector. The cap iron's sharp edge and the little flat surface that is set next to the cutter must lie tightly along the full width of the blade since they are screwed together. This prevents shavings from going between them.  When placing the blade back in the plane, be sure to place the cap iron topmost on the unbeveled side of the blade. Replace the lever cap, locking it with the little cam at the top.

More about hand planes: Tips on Using the Hand Plane

© 2012 Athena Goodlight


5.1.12

Preparations Before Molding, Panels, and Frames Installation


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The more popular types of moldings include the half-round, quarter-round, flat-edge, beaded, grooved, and fluted styles. Depending on the function and matching design, modifications are made for casings, baseboards, picture frames, coves,  paneling, cabinetwork, and battens.

Panels and frames should be mitred and may be connected using dowels, splines, glue, corrugated fasteners, screws, or nails. Where mitre joints are glued, the end grain must first be fitted using a thin coat of adhesive. This coat of glue should be dried and be scraped up smoothly prior to applying the last coat of glue. Mitring is also crucial for moldings utilized for edgings. For this type of edge, moldings must be cut into 4 slightly oversized pieces to give adequate stock left to give allowance for mitred corners. The moldings should first be set in place and any irregularities trimmed using a plane. It recommended to use a rabbet, mortise and tenon, or other concealed joint. If a power tool is used to cut the wood, a wooden spring should be clamped to the ripfence to clasp the molding on the dado blades. Use a stick to push the molding on the fence into the blade.

Moldings frequently have a hard grain and may deflect a brad. To minimize this issue, simply by drill a small hole using a brad with head removed (or a fine steel needle cut off above the eye) as a bit. Another safeguard is chopping off the tip of the nail before nailing it into the wood.

Read more on moldings:
Functions of Moldings For Home Interiors and Woodwork


© 2012 Athena Goodlight

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Functions of Moldings For Home Interiors and Woodwork


A molding is considered the easiest "finishing touch" you could apply to your woodwork.  With the proper power tools, you can create your unique designs or make any of the many different versions.  Of course, you may buy ready-made moldings at the lumber yard.  They are also sold in stores wherein you can choose from dozens of various patterns. Some moldings come already finished in common stains or varnishes.

Moldings are the popularly used to frame items but they're also applied as a completion edging on a plywood top, a tray, or whatever plain border. They can be used to increase the size of a contour or to conceal a join or a flaw.  On a big surface area, they can be applied to create the effect of a smaller board, perhaps coordinating with the shape of a window or a door, or in a diamond or an octagonal shape. It can also function as a finishing touch on the crown of a cabinet, column, or on as a base.  Moldings serve mainly for decorative purposes. To hold these on thin wood panels, backing cleats can initially be screwed to the base part, next, the molding is secured to the cleats with screws from the inner part. Moldings can also used to keep windows and screen doors in position.  The same goes for panel moldings on doors, drawer fronts, and such. However you use the moldings, it is recommended to apply some sealant or paint on the area under the molding to prevent warping or decay.

© 2012 Athena Goodlight 

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Common Types of Screws


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Choosing the best shape for the screw depends upon the purpose it must serve. Here are the most common shape and sizes of screws:

Flat head - This screw is the most popular and can be counter-sunk, meaning, screwed in until its head is level with or somewhat below the surface of the stock. 

Oval head - This screw type can be countersunk and commonly sunk to the rim, it usually bulges out a bit.

Round head - The screw head has a slightly decorative function for it bulges out totally.

Fillister head - The head is shaped like three checkers atop each other to be easily countersunk.

Bung head- The little head, not much wider than the shank, can be comfortably countersunk.

Binding head - This screw type has slightly tapered sides and round top.

Lentil head -This screw is shaped like a little M & M candy.

Headless- The slot of this screw is recessed in the stem.

Truss head, or stove head - The head of this screw is wide and thin.

Pan head - As the name implies, the head is formed like an inverted frypan, narrower on the top, flat on top and bottom.

Drive - A steel, spiral knurl (an elevated twirl) is tempered to make the screw easily driven into soft metal.

Dovel -It is a wood screw with threads on both ends.

Winged - The screw head is shaped like a wing for it to be turned using the fingers.

Hanger bolt -This is basically a wood screw on one end and a machine bolt on the other.


© 2012 Athena Goodlight

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4.1.12

What Types of Glues Can Be Used for Woodwork?


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Comparably, the best, and possibly the most arduous work in wood joining is done by gluing. Anyone can do an average gluing job without much thought or trouble; but a suitable, lasting joint, even stronger than the wood itself, can only be possible the right glue is used and if the glue is applied properly.

The effectiveness of a glued joint is determined by (1) kind of wood, (2) its moisture content, (3) type of joint, (4) precision where contact surfaces match, (5) kind of glue and the method of its preparation, handling, and application, 6) level and length of pressure used when setting, (7) process of conditioning glued joints, and (8) service conditions.

Basically, heavy woods are harder to glue than light woods; hardwoods are more toilsome to glue than softwoods; and heartwoods are more difficult to glue as compared to sapwoods.

There are eight types of commonly used glues available commercially. Of these, the first six are especially useful for the home carpenter: (1) liquid glue, (2) blood - albumin glue, (3) casein glue, (4) synthetic resin glue, (5) vegetable glue, (6) rubber compounds, (7) cellulose cement, and (8) animal glue. There are a lot of ready-made glues on the market that are user-friendly, but the hobbyist would want to know about some of the glues utilized by professionals.

Additional details of the qualities of each glue type can be seen here: Types Woodwork Glues


© 2012 Athena Goodlight 

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