Save cash with a zany patch

How to patch plaster walls with drywall


Construction and demolition go hand in hand. They can make for an expensive wedding, so don’t get too carried away with your sledgehammer.

When you’re renovating, it’s always tempting to peel back walls and ceilings to bare framing. (more…)

A vintage pantry comes home

How to restore an old pantry cabinet


Have you ever bought a house with its contents? I did. And my house included five sheds packed with everything from tools to televisions.

One shed item caught my eye – a pantry cabinet that looked to be from the 1800s. (more…)

New life for old boots

How to make ice boots

ice boots

You will see some strange sights on construction sites. For instance, I’ve seen carpenters cutting their work boots on table saws.

In the old days, there was only one style of work boot. They were made with tough leather that took forever to break in. By the time these boots were stretched and comfortable the plastic soles would be worn out. (more…)

A wooden star illusion

How to make a wooden Christmas star

This shape-shifting star is made from a dozen 6-inch pieces of wood. Photo: Bruce MacNab

Here is a fascinating holiday project, though it’s not only for the twelve days of Christmas. It looks good twelve months of the year. And it’s made from twelve pieces of wood.

I’ve been admiring these mysterious stars for a long time. A neighbour down the road has them hanging from a pine tree outside his home. When I drive by, I always slow down to study the stars.  (more…)

Feeling Groovy

How to carve a border groove inspired by violin purfling

The grooves carved around the edges of this ornamental shelf bracket and tole-painting board were inspired by violin purfling. Photo: Bruce MacNab

Who’s the greatest woodworker of all time? I’ll go with Antonio Stradivari, the violin maker. His instruments sell for millions of dollars. Antonio is a hard act to follow, but let’s give it a try.

Have a look at a violin. There is a little groove carved around the outside edge of the top. Sometimes this groove is filled with a strip of dark wood. This is called purfling and it’s not just for looks. (more…)

Taking it all off

How to strip wallpaper

wallpaper stripper

I spent the weekend in my room with a hot stripper. It cost too much. And by Sunday night I was exhausted. Read on for the sticky details.

My house is old, probably dating back to the 1860s. There was no full bathroom so I decided to convert an upstairs bedroom into a 3-piece bathroom. (more…)

Endgame for end grain

How to make end returns for interior trim


Can you tell good trim work from bad trim work? Some flaws are obvious, like sloppy joints filled with caulking and mitered joints that aren’t sanded flush.

A sure sign of a lazy finish carpenter is exposed end grain. End grain is the butt end of a board. In other words, it’s where you can see the tree rings. It’s almost impossible to paint end grain. It just keeps drinking paint and leaves a flat finish. (more…)

Drilling with nails

How to drill a hole with a nail


Have you ever tried hammering a finish nail into hardwood? Good luck with that. Even nails shot from air nailers can bend in hardwood.

Sometimes finish nails will go through hardwood but then cause the wood to split. Softwood can split, too, especially when nailing small pieces of trim. This happens because the pointy end of a nail is like a wedge that pushes aside the wood fibres. (more…)

The return of baby boomer kitchens

How to make lipped cabinet doors

Lipped plywood doors are architecturally pleasing and easy to clean. Photo: Bruce MacNab

Did you watch the Beatles live on the Ed Sullivan Show? Do you remember when the Six Million Dollar Man fought Bigfoot? If so, you’ll remember lipped cabinet doors made from plywood.

From the 1950s until the 1980s plywood kitchens were built by local carpenters. Since then, most of these kitchens have been (more…)