Hi, I'm Dave Osborne. With over 50 years experience as a journeyman carpenter, foreman and contractor in heavy construction I enjoyed working with apprentices and sharing the tricks of the trade that others shared with me. Now I get emails from Members all over the world and we include many of my answers in our Free Monthly Newsletters. Some of my answers include drawings and instructions specific to a project, but may also answer your questions. I use correct construction terminology, so you can confidently inform your building supply dealers or contractors exactly what you need.
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With home remodeling, home improvement or home repair, it is always nice to get some ideas. Good home improvement ideas can come from magazines, TV programs and the Internet. Here are a few different home improvement ideas that may be of interest to you. I got these when I built my house.
Here is a picture of a window dressing my wife did. She did all the 'toppers' herself. In some instances she used bed sheet material instead of curtain fabric, which kept the cost way down. On the larger, living room windows, she lined them. I'll ask her to answer your questions on them if you have any.
This picture is primarily for you to look at as one option of making a window sill. The sill extends out from the wall about 3/4" and is accented with a piece of casing upside down with it's ends cut at 30°.
We have had a lot of comments on our window seat. My wife got the same material from the store where we bought our furniture and covered the window seat and fronts with material to match as well as making cushions for the top. This is a good idea for useful storage.
I designed this mantle piece from a picture in a magazine. Give me your dimensions of your fireplace opening and I'll give you a price on designing one for you to make. Send along your own picture and I'll design a mantle piece unique to your home, just give me your specs, i.e. wood preferences, color of stain or paint, heights, etc.
Here is my home improvement idea of bordering a ceramic tile hearth with strips of hardwood left over after installation of the hardwood floor. If you decide to do this it is very important to have the hardwood down first with the finish applied. This prevents the grout from the tile from turning the hardwood black.
Hardwood stairs make a nice home improvement feature in a house. Put the hardwood stair risers on first, then place the hardwood stair nosing in position. Scribe a line along the inside of the stair nosing. Remove the stair nosing and layout the pieces of hardwood that come to that inside stair nosing line by ripping the first piece that's against the stair riser, to the correct width. The stair risers can be cut out of plywood 1/4" to 1/2" thick, usually. The stairs should be framed in beforehand with 5/8" minimum plywood, as used for the sub-floor. The hardwood is attached to this plywood by nailing through the spline and face nailing at the back of the stair riser. The hardwood stair nosing is face nailed and glued securely. TIP: When installing oak flooring, don't use a nail set to set the face nails. Use a slotted screw driver instead, aligned with the grain. These marks, when filled in, will blend better with the oak grain than a round hole from a nail set.
Notice the detail of these home improvement pictures for an oak handrail support ending at the newel post. These stair parts are available from home improvement finishing stores and are glued and screwed together. The stair parts are made from oak hardwood, for staining or clear finish, and hemlock, for painting, with hemlock being quite a lot less in price.
A curved hardwood handrail is not that difficult to make. The base and handrail are made up of thin strips of material which are glued together and clamped in place to dry, thus forming the desired curve. After the glue is dry the curved shape is taken to a millwork shop and machined to the suitable profile. The average home improvement person doesn't have the equipment needed for this purpose. I laid up this shape on the stair landing itself, before the carpet was installed. I made up a bunch of plywood 'clamps' and fastened them around the curve at close intervals exactly where the stair handrail would go. I then used little wood wedges to squeeze the glued strips tight. This is a common technique used by innovative home improvement carpenters who don't have the large number of c-clamps required for such a purpose.
I hope I've encouraged you to use your resourcefulness to create home improvements to your home. With a little care and a computer nearby, the two of us can do wonders with your home improvement. There's a great sense of accomplishment when you can tell your friends, "I did my home improvements myself".
Dave(Ask Dave) (About Dave)
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