7 Signs of DIY Doom
When to know when your project is going south and what you can do to save it.
The best time to know your home improvement project is taking a bad turn: before the nosedive.
And how do you predict the future? By seeing the signals leading up DIY doom—frustration, wasted time and your spouse being mad at you. Here are other predictors that your DIY may be DOA.
Forgetting to call 811
If you’ve rented an excavator or power auger and you’re digging a fence or post holes without first having the lines marked by calling a service like 811, you run the risk of penetrating a gas, water or underground power line.
Solution: Have lines marked before you dig. It’s free and easy.
Wanting to screw this!
I can sometimes tell it’s time to take a breath, or take a break, by the fasteners in my pouch. If there are fasteners left over from the previous project or fasteners unrelated to what I’m doing, that usually means I’m rushing or tired or both.
Solution: Take five minutes and put the plastic anchors or drywall screws from three jobs ago where they belong so you can have what you need for THIS project. I use a versatile screw that prevents overload in the first place. I’m crazy for Spax Multi-Material Screws. They work in concrete and wood, inside and outdoors. They work better in both than any other screw I’ve used.
Having a death grip
Tools like table and miter saws are big and powerful. Mostly, though, they’re made to cut long material like crown moulding or deck boards.
Solution: The cut is a zillion times easier when the ‘work’ (the board you’re cutting) is supported way out at the end. A 24-inch wide miter saw only holds 24 inches of board. What about the other 12 feet? You can make DIY worktables like this one I made for DIY Network. The point is: if you have to hang on to the board for dear life, it’s a sign the cut will be too long, too short or even dangerous.
Not being sharp enough
Crappy blades make crappy cuts. Simple.
Solution: Buying new blades is a bitter pill to swallow sometimes, but when it comes to blades you get out more than you put in.
Not being organized
How many hours of a weekend project get lost to sifting through the archeological dig of a messy workshop?
The easiest tools to find are the tools you can see. Put things on shelves and grab ‘em as you need ‘em. Then—and this is important—put them back. It might seem boring at the time, but it’s approximately 12,000 times easier than not being able to find it. Just sayin’….
Failing at tools
Knowing what tools are made for and how to use them seems obvious. A pressure washer is a good example. So many people see these as magic bullets for weekend cleaning then spend hours systematically destroying their deck or fence.
Solution: Practice with a tool before using it. Get the feel. Become friends. And do your best to know what it’s for and how it works. If you’ve ever fuzzed up a deck board by hitting it with too much water, check out this Wood, Naturally video for more information.
When you’re hanging a ceiling fan or building a tree house, it’s fun! What’s not fun is needing a tool or fastener—say for a cordless drill or lag bolt—and it’s 20 feet away. Or, worse, you drop it!
Solution: Tool pouch. It doesn’t have to be fancy (although I’ll share with you in a future piece what works best for me) but it has to exist. Whether you go full-on leather bags or a simple cotton apron or even work vest, the easiest fasteners and tools to use are the ones you can reach.
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