Rental Grants – Free Money For Housing

Those who are facing financial hardship have an opportunity to receive free rental grants, or money that the government gives to people that never has to be paid back. These programs are available to help people who are facing a tough situation and need temporary relief.

Usually people end up having trouble making their rent payments because of a recent life event. It may be a job loss, lay off, medical condition, or simply having too more expenses than income. With just a little debt relief in any way, even if it is to help you make your rent payment, gives you an chance to get back on your feet and take back control.

Otherwise, as things continue to worsen individuals could get evicted, lose their cars, and eventually lose their jobs. Not only can that lead to homelessness, but filing for personal bankruptcy becomes a last resort reality. All of these things are bad for the economy, and the government is willing to do whatever it takes to help you avoid that.

Rental grants can often be obtained from your local government agencies. You can make a trip to your city hall to inquire about the available programs or you can search the government database online. What you'll find is a list of available funding options along with the qualification requirements. In some cases to qualify you must have missed your last two payments, where other programs may need to verify your income and look at how much debt you are carrying. Either way, there is no down payment, collateral or credit check to obtain free money to pay your rent.

Woodworking With Dowel Rods

All woodworkers should be familiar with dowels. They are easy to work with and can make a lot of woodworking endeavors less complicated. They can add beauty and strength to many different types of projects. Just imagine all of the things that you can do and create. Dowels should be staples in your wood shop or garage. Learn about the different types of dowels and their uses.

1) Dowels can be used to create hanging rods, flag poles, toy parts, and many other wood crafts. They aid in joining wood together in bigger projects, like chair building and making shelves.

2) Choose the type of dowel that matches the rest of your project. Pine, birch, and cherry wood dowels are very light in color. Birch and cherry also come in darker varieties. Some darker types include maple, oak and walnut. Any hardwood dowel can be stained or painted to match your project.

3) Over time, you may see that you need a variety of diameters as you practice your trade. Some manufacturers can carve specific diameters for you. They can even use your materials to make your dowels if you have something that is hard to match.

4) Dowels are great for turning spindles or decorative poles on a lathe. They are essentially a blank for starting projects that require poles for decoration or functionality. They are great for getting in lots of practice on the lathe without investing a lot of money or time. People most often need spindles for doll house decoration, chair backs, stair railings, candlesticks, or on deck rails. You can use spindles to create decorative easement accents, table legs, drawer pull hardware, and more.

5) Dowels are commonly used in making toys or toy parts. You can use them to make axles in toy cars, jump rope handles, monkey bars, game pieces, and more. Many woodworkers like to advance their skills by taking on small projects. Creating toys is a fun and easy way to test your limits and learn new skills, without investing the type of money that it would take to say, build an armoire. Toys are generally quick and simple. You can practice your carving skills, create decorative accents, and create an heirloom quality piece that could be treasured for generations.

The more you work with wood, the more you’ll start to appreciate the things that make your projects more predictable and less time consuming. A wood dowel is handy, inexpensive, and can be useful in a multitude of applications. You can choose softwood or a hardwood dowel, paint or stain, hand carve or use the lathe. Woodworking provides you with a variety of ways to accomplish a task based on your skills and personal tastes. Dowel rods can help you to keep that flexibility without starting from scratch when it’s not necessary.

DIY Vermicomposting – A Worm Farm on a Budget

Have you wanted to set up a home worm farm, but been put off by the high cost of purchasing one of the neat “designer label” multi-tiered “vermicomposting” kits, promoted by garden centres and mail order companies? Well, let’s cut through the crap! – ITS ACTUALLY NO SECRET !!! -You can easily make your own DIY three bin kit for a just a few dollars and your worms will be as happy as little pigs in the yellow stuff, with no big bad wolf in sight. Moreover, you don’t need to be an expert handyman to achieve this!

  • Hardware stores, supermarkets and camping outlets sell tough, general purpose black (opaque) plastic storage containers for a very reasonable price. These are usually tapered so that they can be nested to facilitate stacking on the retailer’s shelves and come with a “snap-fit”ce lid. For your worm farm, you will need three of these tapered containers (but only one lid). For a simple home worm farm I would advise going for 12 gallon (45 litre) containers. Typically, they will be about 15 inches deep (400mm). You can go smaller, if you want.
  • In the first storage container, drill a 3/8 inch (15mm hole), centrally placed, in the side of the bin, just above the base. Insert a ½ inch (12mm) cheap plastic barrel or irrigation tap (with washers) into your hole and tighten fast with lock nuts – make sure you get a good seal – test by filling the container with tap water. This container is to be the lowest one in your stack and will retain the highly nutritional “worm tea” leachate, that will start dripping down from the composting bins above. Worm tea is a valuable liquid organic fertilizer, that can be diluted and used directly on your organic vegetables.

The two upper bins will actually hold the worms. They are to be identical and are prepared as follows : –

  • Drill a pattern of ¼ inch (6mm) holes across the entire base of each container for drainage and to allow drainage and the upward migration of the compost worms, these holes should be regularly spaced at approx two inch (50mm) centres in either direction.
  • For aeration, drill two rows of ¼ inch (6mm) holes at two inch (50mm) centres, in a continuous band around each of the bins. This band of holes would be about four inches (100mm) below the top rim of the bin.
  • It is not essential to drill holes in the lid, which is closed tightly over the upper bin. as you should get enough air through the sides.
  • You first set up the lower (sump) bin on bricks or blocks, allowing enough space to tap off the fluid from beneath it. Choose a shady location for the worm farm (in a shed or garage, if you are subject to frosts).
  • The second and third bins are “nested” within each other and dropped into the sump bin. To maintain a working space for the worms, and for accumulation of compost, you need a few spacers or packers of about six to eight inches height, between the two upper bins and some smaller packers of about four inches in the lower (sump) bin. You can use wood blocks or sealed food jars for packers. The packers also prevent the tapered worm bins from jamming together.
  • To prevent “nasty bugs” from squeezing in between the bins, you should close (caulk) the small gap between them with strips of shade cloth, or mosquito netting.

Now you are ready to go into production. Space prevents us from giving fully detailed notes here for the fine points of operating the system, such as choosing and feeding your worms, eradicating pests and maintaining the worm farm etc – you can visit our website for this information. However, just make sure that you cover the following points: –

  • Set up your worms in the top bin with a good (damp) fibrous bedding (or even shredded newspaper) and after a few days you will be ready to start feeding in your kitchen scraps. Cover the food with more bedding material to discourage pests and keep the lid closed.
  • Make sure the worm farm is never allowed to dry out, by sprinkling water over the bedding periodically, if there is not already enough moisture coming from the food scraps.
  • When the top bin has been fully productive for a while, the worms will multiply and compost will be start accumulating from the worm castings. When the quantity of compost is meaningful, stop putting feed into this bin and swap over the upper two bins by putting bin No 2 to the top of the stack, with bin No 1 now in the middle. Set up this new top bin with clean bedding, a small amount of the old castings and immediately start feeding your kitchen scraps into it. The worms will naturally migrate upwards towards the new food source, leaving the lower bin with only a few stragglers and ready for the harvesting of your compost within about three weeks after the swap.
  • All you need to do is to keep repeating the process of alternating the top two bins on a regular basis, taking out the compost, whenever it accumulates, and tapping off the worm tea from time to time. Use both products in your garden and grow delicious fully organic vegetables and stunning roses. Sit back and enjoy the fruit of your labours – your worms are doing most of the work anyway!

To see a detailed diagram of this simple worm farm, as described, and some illustrative photos, you can visit our web site at http://www.working-worms.com/

Happy worming!

Brinkmann Grills – The Consumer and Expert's Choice

Brinkmann Grills are certainly one of the most loved outdoor cooking equipment especially by those who are fond of camping and backyard barbecue parties. Carrying the Brinkmann logo, these outdoor cookers exemplify not only cooking in style but also quality and durability. The makers of Brinkmann grills and all other Brinkmann products at that insure their customer that all their products are high in quality, designed accordingly, are safe and easy to use and are really outstanding performance-wise. With this statement alone, there's no wonder why Brinkmann grills are constantly on top of the consumer's list and reviews.

One of Brinkmann's most remarkable outdoor cookers is the All-in-One Smoker and Grill. This versatile cooking equipment can be used as a gas grill, a charcoal water smoker, a charcoal grill, an LP gas cooker or a BTU gas grill. It is able to accommodate up to 50 lbs. of food and is made of heavy duty materials. The body is chrome plated with some other parts such as the legs or stand made of stainless steel. The package comes with a heat indicator, wooden handles, water drip pan, ash guard and lava rocks. It is user-friendly and is easy to clean and maintain. Some of the Brinkmann grills have side air vents, smoke control and smokestack damper. The electric grills are also amazing in terms of performance and design.

There's really no doubt about it, Brinkmann outdoor cooking tools are certainly the best. Check the company's official website for available grill models as well as availability. Brinkmann grills are highly recommended not only by outdoor cooking aficionados but by cooking experts as well.

How to Arc Weld

Arc welding is a useful skill for all DIY enthusiasts and those wishing to begin a career in this field. Welding machines are readily available in most hardware stores and all you need is a power supply and some electrodes and away you go.

Before you start it's important to consider all the safety aspects of the job. Arc welding pipes extreme heat, very bright white light and exposure to UV radiation. It's important to keep all of your skin covered up and pay particular attention to your eyes. Wear a good quality welding helmet with the right grade of visor. You should also have a jacket, thick gloves, an apron and rubber soled boots. All these items can be purchased from most hardware stores.

First off you will want to spend some time preparing the surfaces. You can use an angle grinder to clean up the edges and remove any rust, old weld or dirt. Using the angle grinder it's also helpful to make a 45 degree chamfer along the edges you plan to weld. This will help to achieve a strong, deep weld.

Set up your arc welding machine and plug it into your power supply. Make sure your grounding clamp has a good connection with your work piece and remove any hindrance such as paint. Also clamp down both pieces you intend to weld together to prevent them moving as you make your initial weld.

With everything in place you are ready to start welding. Move your electrode close to where you want to start welding and pull down the welding mask over your face. It will be very hard to see anything until you start welding. Scratch the surface of your work piece with your electrode; this should produce an arc which in turn melts your electrode creating what's known as a weld pool. With your electrode held at 90 degrees slowly move along your chamfered edge keeping one third of weld pool ahead of you. Your electrode should remain at a constant distance above your work piece, this is known as the arc length. Your arc length should roughly be the same as the diameter of your electrode.

When you reach the end of your weld take the holder away and turn off the power supply. Once cool, use a chipping hammer to remove the 'slag' that has formed on top of your weld bead.

Old Ribbons, New Ideas

Whether they come from gift wrappings, clothes or objects that are no longer needed, ribbons seem to gather in the drawers of every home. Most people throw them away after a while, thinking that they are useless and waste space. Think again – ribbons and bows are essential elements in do-it-yourself projects, so if you like crafting, then you definitely have to hear about the ways in which you can re-use these objects. Even if you do not have full rolls to work with, you can take small pieces of various textures and colors and add them together for more impact. If you still do not have enough fabric, you can buy ribbons online and finish your project.

Add more personality to your diary

Do you have a diary, an agenda or a notebook where you write poems or stories? Then you should definitely make it more personal and replace its generic cover with something creative. For example, you can cut ribbon strips in different sizes and glue them to the cover. The more colorful they are, the better. You can place them in the shape of a bow or heart and you can insert magazine cut-outs to spice things up. The same idea also works for family or yearbook albums. In this case, you can pin the ribbon in the upper corner of a photo instead of gluing it.

Turn them into shoelaces

If your shoe collection is all black and white, you do not need to have to go on a shopping spree to bring more color into it. Those long ribbon strands you have lying around from last Christmas can be used instead of shoelaces. This is really easy to do and it only takes a couple of minutes. For extra visual impact, use different colors. However, make sure you choose durable materials such as velvet or raffia. Sheer materials might look very nice and delicate, but they will degrade with time, especially if you wash your shoes in the washing machine.

Make beanies and hair accessories

Beanies can look quite plain without they have a colorful pattern or some kind of accessory woven on it. Unfortunately, these designs are harder to find in stores (unless you're going to the kids section) and the ones that are more original cost way too much. You can use ribbon to make small bows and then you can sew them on the side of the beanie. You can also attach them to plain hair bands, bobby pins or clips and, if you want to invest a few more pounds, you can buy a simple headband and decorate it with bows, pearls, glitter and other materials that you have around the house .

Be your own jewelery designer

Creating your own jewelery is something more time consuming than the other ideas above, but if you are patient and meticulous enough, it will be worth it. The simplest thing you can do is put multi-colored beads, pearls and charms on a string and get your very own necklace or bracelet. If you're really skilled and patient, learn how to make ribbon flowers, glue them to a safety pin and there you have it – a brand new brooch!

Rainwater Drainage Systems – The Importance Of Proper Drainage

A Rainwater Drainage System is very important to properly channel rainwater, which may damage your property in the long run. If the proper system is not installed, when there is heavy rainfall there may be problems such as water clogging and leaking in the roofs and so on. While constructing a house, the utmost importance must be given to its drainage system as well. Based on the style of your building, you could select from the many varieties of these systems available on the market. Drainage systems that will not lose the aesthetic value of the house are now available and will also serve the purpose and look good on your building as well.

You have both the contemporary style as well as the classically styled drainage systems from which to choose. Before selecting it, it's also important to analyze the building to find the areas where there are possibilities of water logging due to heavy rains. Rainwater, if clogged on your terrace and other open spaces, may moisten your building and cause heavy damage. The repair work for such reasons may cost you heavily.

Understanding the Rainwater drainage system is very important. You need to do the necessary plumbing work in order to install a perfect system. For this, you could get the opinion of your plumber who will suggest that you get the best systems that will suit your building style. Only when you understand the entire plumbing work of your house, will you be able to find the problematic spots during troubleshooting. The first important part of the drainage system is the gutters, which will channel the rainwater running onto your rooftops into the downspout pipes. Based on the size of your house, the gutters must be large enough to accumulate the water during heavy rains.

It is also important to check these gutters for any blocks or hurdles during the heavy rainy season. Gutter outlets, which are the part that connects the gutter to the downspout pipes, are available in various shapes. They are mostly used as connectors between the pipes on your rooftops. Nowadays, you can get even PVC pipes, which are much more durable when compared to conventional types of pipes. You will also get drain pipes to suit your building style. Cast iron drain pipes are also available that look neat and classy.

The importance of rainwater drainage system can never be over emphasized. Many people overlook this and do not pay much attention to the system in their homes. In fact, during the construction time itself, a proper plan for it must be designed so that they will form an integral part of the house plan. If it is not properly installed, then it will spoil the looks of your building due to water seepage and clogging. In the long run, you may have to spend more on repair work due to rainwater seepage. Based on your personal budget, you could select the right type of drainage system that will serve the purpose as well as not detract from the aesthetic value of your house.

Rain Gutter Maintenance – Leaf Guard, Protective Screen

Rain gutter maintenance is one of the most important house maintenance tasks to perform on the exterior of your property. Neglecting gutter maintenance may result in damage and costly repairs of the soffit, fascia, house wall (exterior and interior), roof decking surfaces, and other structures surrounding your property.

Rain gutters need to be cleaned more often if there are trees surrounding your house or if there are trees in the near neighborhood. During the fall, when all those trees start shedding their leaves, you may need to have the gutters cleaned several times.

Remember to perform your final gutter and downspout maintenance / check-up at the end of the fall, when all tree leaves have disappeared. The safest method to find out how your gutters are performing is to go outside during the rain and check your downspouts.

If there's very little / no water discharging from them, or water is overflowing the gutter edges, you have a few possible problems:

  • The gutter or the downspout itself is clogged – requires cleaning
  • The gutter has a negative slope – away from the downspout, and needs to be repositioned to discharge water properly (1/4 "slope per every 10 liner feet of the gutter will do)
  • Section of the gutter is sagging – that happens occasionally as a result of loose nails / screws / brackets holding the gutter in place (separating from fascia board), contamination (weight of dirt, leaves and debris accumulated along the rain gutter) – requires cleaning and / or just repositioning
  • If you have lots of water discharging from your downspout and still have an overflowing gutter, you may need to replace your gutter system (or at least the downspouts) with a larger one

To clean a lightly contaminated gutter, you can use a garden hose and flush all the deposits towards the downspout, then pick up anything that did not make its way down in the downspout attachment area.

It may be possible to clean the gutter from the ground by using a garden hose attachment / extension. In case you have some type of the gutter page guards installed, you'll need to remove them first.

However, this procedure will not work on years of deposits inside the gutter, and you'll need to pick up all the decomposed leaves and debris by hand.

Always use utility gloves to protect your hands from gutters sharp edges and joint screws. Safety glasses are also recommended.

For the clogged downspout, try to use your garden hose – just make sure the bottom of the downside is open and free of debris before you stick the hose into the top opening. Filling a clogged downspout with water will put a lot of stress on all joints and downspout brackets – it might cause your entire downspout assembly to collapse.

Flushing the gutter or downspout with a garden hose while standing on top of the ladder is hazardous. Water filled garden hose is heavy and may pull you down from the ladder – ideally, it should be secured / anchored above the area you're working on / not to the ladder!

There are various tools available on the market and some of them may speed-up your gutter maintenance process, but the old-fashioned way (100% manual) will give you the most satisfaction. 🙂

  • Rain Gutter Seams

All it takes to repair the leaking gutter seam is a few minutes of your time – to clean this leaking area from any contamination, and apply Dap 27062 Butyl-Flex Gutter and Flashing Caulk, or a similar sealant designed for that purpose.

After it stops raining, look at the gutter corners, around the downspout attachment area, and any other seams. Depending on the installation, a leaking seam may or may not cause any problems. Surface beneath the gutter protected by a good quality paint (no matter how good it is, it will not last forever), or aluminum capping will survive that leak.

You have to look for damage in the area directly next and below the leaking seam, there might be a rotten soffit / fascia board, deteriorating brick or mortar, water damaged siding or even moisture / water penetrating the interior of the house.

If you notice any stains underneath the gutter, I'd also recommend to check the roof surface directly above this area – it might be already damaged.

Gutters on taller houses, with roofs above the tree line, may only require cleaning once a year (or every couple of years), usually in the downtpout attachment area. However, their seams may break and start leaking periodically as well.

  • Corroded Gutters

It all depends on the amount of corrosion – seeing soonly corroded bottom might be a sign of a heavily corroded interior, and in that case the gutter or its section would most likely require replacement. However, if you are creative … roofing cement, aluminum foil, silicon, electrical tape, duct tape, and many other materials can be used. It may not look beautiful but sometimes it works.If the metal gutter material feels solid, remove as much rust as possible with a steel wool, treat the area with a liquid rust remover, apply the rust converter and than mach the gutter color with some corrosion resistant paint.

  • Rain Gutter Guards / Screens

Gutter guards and screens help to lower the amount of maintenance the gutters require. There are several different types of gutter guards, so do some research before you spend money. I personally recommend plastic guards, which I installed on my own gutters several years ago.

They have round holes on the surface and a fine screen / micro mash on top of it. This leads debris falling off the trees from contaminating the gutter. Anything that accumulates on top of the screen will be eventually washed off by the rain or blown off the surface with the wind.

There's another version of this guard without the screen, it is slightly cheaper but allows smaller leaves and debris to penetrate and ever clog the gutter.

Another thing to consider is the gutter guard color – this particular type comes in white and brown, at least in my local home improvement stores.

Why is the gutter screen / guard color important – if your roof receives a lot of sun, brown gutter guards made out of plastic will absorb lots of heat and start bending and changing its dimensions over time. This is what happened on my roof and reflected in significant gaps between individual sections … and more maintenance.

So, a white gutter guard (plastic) will perform better, and if you could get a similar product in long sections to avoid seams, your gutters will be almost maintenance free.

  • Rain Gutter Strainers Maintenance

Gutter strainers are installed inside or on top of the gutter outlet, in most cases partially inserted into the downtpout. They prevent leaves and debris from clogging your downspouts and work fine for as long as you maintain them on a regular basis. Leafs and debris that start accumulating around the strainer will eventually block it completely, and cause the gutter to overflow.

I highly recommend recommending rain gutter strainer if your downspout discharges into an underground drain and if there are any trees in the vicinity of your property – just remember to clean it periodically!

However, if you have no trees at and / or around your property, the rain gutter strainer is not necessary. Small debris transported by wind will simply flow down the downspout without accumulating around the strainer, and saving you some rain gutter maintenance time.

How To Paint A Wooden Boat

One of the great increasing mysteries of today’s modern boatbuilding is the amount of hi-tech gobble-de-gook that the average home boat builder is expected to wade through when the time comes to paint the boat after the horrendous amount of sanding, fairing and hard work is (mostly) over and the fruits of your labour now require a shiny deep lustre that the painting now promises to bring. This part, to my mind at least, is one of the best parts of boatbuilding, the finish! (Well, at least the start of the finish!)

Painting a boat used to be a reasonably simple task. All one needed was a fine dry day, one of Dad’s paintbrushes, some turps, a roll of masking tape, a bit of pink primer left over from the decorating and a half gallon of shiny blue enamel paint from the local hardware store…they were the days!

Not so today, my friends! The unsuspecting boat builder who toddles off to the local chandlery or superstore best be prepared for the very worst- not only will he (or she) face a huge financial onslaught on their wallet but a mind boggling array of hi-tech whiz wow balderdash that the (generally) uninformed shop assistant will proceed to throw in their general direction in the faint hope that you will give in under the stress and buy several litres of the latest polurethanicalslitheryaminomolecular goop that’s just come in. For example, you’ll be faced with trade names like ‘Interlux Interthane coating’. I mean, come on, it sounds like a new space invaders game! This is bloody paint! There are many others but I’m sure you get the gist of what I’m saying.

Another example of the kind of thing that drives me nuts is that you can expect to buy several litres of a iso-cyanate two pack marine polyurethane paint only to be cheerfully told its illegal to spray it unless you have a proper licenced premises to do so, drone drone!! I suppose they have to make up new names to go with the new paint company policies of charging up to $150 a litre for some of these new fangled paints! What the hell have they discovered that’s so expensive to put in this stuff? I was under the impression that paint was a few litres of linseed oil, turps, some drying agents and a few ounces of pigments for colour…can I really be so out of touch?

BACK TO BASICS

So, why do we paint wooden boats? Or any other boat for that matter? The first part of that question is easy. Boats look much smarter and better if they shine and gleam a bit… it’s only human nature after all. The second part to that question is: We want to protect it. Ok, from what? Well, wood rots if you don’t paint it, right? – wrong! Wood left to its own devices does not rot. Wood only rots as a result of its environment. There are multiple cases of how, plain untreated wood can last for centuries as long as it is in the correct environment. There are basically only a few elements that start wood rotting. Biological attack from spores, fungi, temperature, high humidity or total absorption, physical attack from marine borers and crustaceans that allow ingress to all the other elements aforementioned.

Don’t let’s forget that polluted waters can degrade timber to the point where it will rot….we’ll add chemical attack to that list too. So, in view of all these very compelling reasons we protect our boat by painting it to coat it fully against these assaults.

PREPARATION OF TIMBER

The actual preparation of timber can cover a range of differing requirements. If your boat is a new build you won’t have to go through many of the preparatory stages that an older boat may have to go through. With some forms of boatbuilding where a boat has been built by a different method such as strip planking or cold moulding, we paint the boat as if it were a fibreglass boat, due to the fact that either layers of fibreglass cover the timber or that the timber has been coated with epoxy that does not allow conventional paints to adhere to it properly. However, if we wish to protect bare timber then we use a different tack. Timber in its bare natural state has millions of thin hollow tubes running through it, constructed of cellulose in its natural form. We have to seal these tubes to prevent the ingress of water into them. Therefore we seal and coat the timber first of all.

The first thing we do is to clean and remove any loose and flaking or damaged paint plus any dirt that remains on the hull – sounds easy if you say it quick but it must be done! If necessary (and most times it is) degrease the hull using a proprietary paint degreaser after removing all dust preferably with a vacuum cleaner. Don’t forget it won’t be absolutely necessary to get all the hull back to bare wood just dry, clean, grease and dust free.

FILLING AND IMPERFECTIONS

Obviously, not many timber craft are perfect on the outside. There are many blemishes, cracks, imperfections and splits both large and small to deal with by filling them and sanding them flush before priming the boat. It’s a bit of a chore but time spent here will reward you with a boat that will certainly look better plus have a longer life. Some folks fill these holes and imperfections in timber with epoxy filler but it is not a good idea. Sometime later, for example, when the boat has to undergo a repair, it will be the very devil of a job to remove the epoxy from a fastening hole. It’s best to use some kind of proper timber filler that dries hard and fast but is never that hard that it can’t be removed later on. For example, painter’s glazing compound is a fairly hard setting soft paste that can be quickly applied then sanded and painted satisfactorily. Carvel boats usually have their seams filled fair with a special seam compound AFTER the boat has been primed. Once the boat has been filled and faired smooth and all dust removed we are ready to put some actual paint on. Remember, the difference between a professional paint job and an amateur is the PREPARATION!

WOOD PRESERVATIVE

There are two schools of thought about treating bare timber with wood preservatives. I’ve heard stories that primers and paints don’t adhere to many of them. In my case, I have never personally had that happen to me, so I am generally in favour of using them. Nevertheless, I am convinced that in many cases where the paint refuses to stick to timber is because the wood has not properly dried out after application. There is a definite percentage of humidity level that every timber has (and most of them differ slightly) where paint of any description simply won’t stick. It can be up to fifteen per cent in some timbers. Above all, ensure that your timber is dry enough to allow any paint or filler to adhere to it. Remember too that salt deposits on timber will readily contain water and keep it damp…. if your boat was in salty water wash it off in fresh before commencing painting. When and only when, your timber preservative is dry the next stage is:

PRIMER

The first coat of primer to go onto your hull is metallic grey primer. It is a good primer to use because it is made up of millions of microscopic flat metal (aluminium) plates that lie on top of each other giving water a very hard time to pass though it…Pink primer for example, has circular molecules of substances therefore allowing water to ingress a lot quicker…fact! Grey primers also contain certain oils and most have anti-mould agents contained within (biocides to you and I) We put two coats of grey primer above the waterline and three, no less, below it.

SOME OTHER OBSERVATIONS ABOUT PRIMERS

There are a whole world of paint primers out there and confusion about their qualities are very common. For basic dry timbers, the grey metallic primers are good as previously explained. Also many oil-based primers from well-known companies are also very good and will do the job perfectly well. Hi-build primers however must be approached with caution and I must say that I have never personally got on too well with them. Most of them contain Titanium Dioxide (that’s talcum powder to us lot) and even when it is fully cured can absorb copious amounts of moisture that can prevent really good paint adhesion. To avoid this only paint hi-build primers on good clear dry days and avoid excessive atmospheric humidity levels. Then, as soon as is possible apply the topcoats to seal them in. Note too, that hi-build primers are a soft type of paint and can suffer badly from scuffing over stony or shingly beaches and even when launching from boat trailers. When sanding these primers remember that huge clouds of white dust are released so be aware of where you sand and wear appropriate safety masks.

TOPCOATS

Once again, there are many types to choose from. Let’s get the two- packs out of the way first. TWO-PACK POLYURETHANES have to be applied over a two-pack epoxy undercoat first of all. They have a fantastic finish and that’s fine but you must be absolutely sure that the timber underneath is not going to move because the paint cures so hard that it can and will crack (strip plankers and cold moulded boats are your best bet here…apart of course from glass boats). The primary reason is that timber constructed boats move or ‘work’ as it is known. You may well get away with it if your timber boat has been glassed from new….not glassed over later as a preventative method to stop leaks. Rarely boats treated thus dry out properly and are still susceptible to movement as the timber inside the glass either rots because it was wet or it dries out too much and shrinks. Also boats that have been chined properly, that is, strips of timber glued in between the planks instead of being caulked, stand a reasonable chance of not moving.

Ok, what else? One pack or single pack polyurethane paints can be a good choice for a topcoat…they are almost as glossy and as durable as the two-packs but not quite! They are however, less expensive and far easier to apply than the two-packs… there are a multitude of them out there, so a bit of research is required plus your own personal choice…I’m not going to get involved in a slanging match about which ones are the best! However, remember most major well-known paint manufacturer’s products are usually ok! It’s your call!

So next on my list are marine enamels. Once again, it pays to remember that anything with MARINE in front of it is usually expensive…a good place to avoid in this quest is the large hardware chain stores that sport one or two paints in this category and I’ve fallen for it myself before now. It’s the Name we are looking for!

Even with decent quality marine enamels some of the whites have been known to yellow with age and the way round this is to buy the off-white colours such as cream or buff. My last choice in Marine enamels proper, is a relative newcomer…a water-based enamel. I personally have never used any but I have heard some good reports and there has to be a few advantages with them, quick cleanup for one and you can even drink the thinners!

ASSORTED CHOICES

There are a few types of paint systems that are different to the abovementioned and as usual they probably will draw a lot of flack from those types that love writing to the editor for some reason or the other. Mainly I suspect, because something isn’t quite conventional. Each of the following paints has their different uses and attributes.

HOUSE PAINT ENAMELS

Over the years the quality of house paint enamels has been increasing dramatically to the point where many yachties I know paint their boats with it. It’s a bit softer (and definitely cheaper) than most single pack polyurethanes and some colours, mostly the darker hues, tend to fade earlier than others. However, the fact remains that they can be an excellent choice especially if you own a small boat and don’t mind repainting it every couple of years….cheap to buy, easy to apply!

WATER BASED ACRYLICS

A few years ago you wouldn’t have dreamed of painting your boat with acrylic paint….it would have peeled off in great strips. That does not apply today however. My own boat, The NICKY J has been painted using Wattyl’s Acrylic semi-gloss “CANE” and it is really amazing. I used gloss for the hull and semi-gloss for the decks over white epoxy primer single pack and it has been really good. Never once has it even looked like delaminating. I paint the boat once a year with a roller and it takes less than a day…and she’s forty two feet long! It is yet another choice!

Well there’s your main paint choices but I urge you to remember one thing…preparation is King… it will save you plenty of money in the long run, for sure.

HOW TO APPLY YOUR PAINT

There are of course, three main methods of applying your paints; Spraying, brushing and rollering. There’s another that many people use, a combination of the last two, rolling and tipping, we’ll deal with that one later.

Let’s take a look at spraying. There are several pre-requisites for a decent spray job. These usually are a decent workshop complete with suction fans and half decent ventilation using good spray gear (cheapo underpowered stuff just doesn’t cut the mustard) and most importantly, adequate and proper safety gear. There are always exceptions to the rule and there’s one chap who works in Edge’s boatyard outside in the weather and he does a fantastic job…imagine how much better he might be if he worked indoors!! You will also have to watch the weather, high humidity is not good and also where the overspray goes…not over anyone’s car as is so often the case! A good excess of paint is lost and wasted in the process. If you have a driving need for you boat to look like your car then sprayings for you! Oh yeah, it quick(ish) too!

Brushing by hand can yield incredible results if you are patient and also know what you are doing. I’ve seen boats that at first glance look like they have been sprayed only to find out that they were hand painted by brush…….Dust free atmosphere and bloody good brushes (I mean expensive) are an absolute must here.

Last of all, rollering especially the ‘roll and tip’ method. This requires two people working together as a team. One rolls the paint on thinly and the other follows closely with a decent brush and ‘tips’ out the bubbles left behind by the roller – unbelievably good finishes can be obtained by this method.

A word of warning, no matter which method you use. Don’t be tempted to retouch runs or sags in the paint or you will ruin the finish….wait until the paint has fully dried then deal with it! It’s tempting but paint always seems to gel quicker than you would think!

A SUMMARY

There are many facets to the successful painting of a boat. We can’t be good at all of them and you have to choose the method most suited to you own particular capabilities. A lot depends on the facilities that you have available at your disposal. Some people have the garden to work in others may have huge sheds and even access to a warehouse! I will say that a few basic rules apply to painting even the smallest boat. Often, too much, too clever or too sophisticated is often detrimental to what you are trying to achieve.

I have seen boats that cost twenty grand to paint and they were just really average…why? Wrong choice of painter, that’s why. If you are going to choose a painter it’s not a crime to ask him to show you some examples of his work. If he’s any good there should be plenty…there are plenty of chancers and cowboys about, rest assured. All boats, every single one of them will need retouching or even a repaint within years. Just how long you get for your money is the trick. Unless you put your freshly painted boat in a museum or garage and lock it away you can bet that from day one, it will collect nicks, dings, scratches and scars, it’s inevitable. Beware the painter who tells you, ‘yes it will be ten grand, but it’ll outlast you and me’. The need for repainting is directly proportional to how badly the boat is treated over the years. The only way of keeping your boat pristine and perfect is never to actually put it in that dirty old water once it’s done! Be realistic about your own abilities and your expectations. Simple can be better in many cases.

A SIMPLE FORMULA FOR CALCULATING HOW MUCH PAINT YOU NEED (FOR ONE COAT)

This is interesting if not exactly exact! But it gets very close indeed. This is applicable to brushing and rolling only NOT spraying. There’s a different formula for that and I don’t know it!

THE FORMULA

ONE COAT = The boat’s length overall x the beam x 0.85

Divided by square feet covered per litre listed on the paint can instructions.

If you can’t work it out the paint manufacturer will tell you if you ring the company hotline.

Over the years, wooden boats have survived the elements in spite of very crude and primitive forms of paint. Many early vessels were simply daubed in pitch, bitumen, turps and beeswax. An early Thames barge had survived for over a hundred years in perfect condition as she was originally used as a bitumen tanker!! The dark brown shiny finish was the most perfect example of preserved wood that I have ever seen. One of the most interesting boats I ever saw was painted with fence paint…the owner reckoned he’d only ever painted it once in thirty years! Another old boat builder I knew once told me the secret of painting a wooden boat was to paint it with as many coats of paint that you could afford!

Continuing Education in Commercial Lumber

Commercial lumber is basically any lumber traded in the free market system, bought or sold at either the retail or wholesale level. It comes in many forms, types and species, and is generally graduated into categories of quality to enable users to select the quality best suited for their purposes.

The grading of commercial lumber is based upon the characteristics and features that may lower its strength, durability or appearance. Knots, checks and pitch pockets are some of the visual features that are a natural part of trees. While those grades that make up the vast majority of commercial lumber can contain numerous knots and other features, some grades are essentially free of such features.

Lumber can be divided into two major categories: hardwood and softwood. Hardwood lumber is primarily used for remanufacturing into furniture, flooring, paneling, molding, cabinetry and other millwork. Softwood lumber is primarily used for construction work.

Hardwood lumber can be graduated into the three main categories of factory lumber, dimensioned lumber and finished products.

There are several grades of hardwood factory lumber. The best grade is known as "FAS"; the second-best grade is "FIF"; and the third-best grade is called "Selects". These grades are followed by "No. 1 Common", "No. 2A Common", No. 2B Common "," Sound Wormy "," No. 3A Common "and" No. 3B Common. "Hardwood lumber comes in standard lengths of one foot increments ranging from four feet to sixteen feet in length Standard thicknesses are either either 1/8 inch or 1/2 inch increments ranging from 3/16 inch to 3-3 / 4 thicknesses. Hardwood lumber is manufactured to random widths as the grades do not specify standard widths.

Dimensioned hardwood lumber, also known as "hardwood dimension stock" or "dimension parts", is stock that has been processed into specific lengths, widths and thicknesses and can be either semi-machined or completely machined products. These products are usually kiln-dried and graduated into the three main classes of "hardwood dimension parts", "rough solid kiln-dried squares" and "surfaced solid kiln-dried squares".

Finished hardwood market products are graduated in finished form and generally require no further processing. Examples of finished products include siding, stair treads and risers, trim and molding, construction boards and timbers, and hardwood flooring. Of these hardwood flooring is probably the highest volume product on the market.

Softwood lumber has been used for many years as the primary raw material for use in construction and manufacturing. It is produced in a wide variety of products and from a wide variety of species. Softwood lumber can be classified by its species, grade and form of manufacture, and can be graduated into the three main categories of yard lumber, structural lumber, and factory and shop lumber.

Yard lumber can be further graded into "Select" and "Common" classes. Select lumber is usually not graded according to strength but rather according to appearance, as it is generally intended to receive natural or paint finishes. Common lumber is also not usually graded for stress, is of lower appearance than the Select grade, but is suitable for light construction and utility uses.

Structural lumber is almost always produced in standard dynamic sizes, graded for stress and strength, and assigned allowable structural properties. As the name implies, structural lumber is used as structural members in construction.

Factory and Shop lumber comes in a wide variety of species, sizes and grades of softwood and is typically the raw material for many different secondary manufacturing uses where appearance and finishing characteristics as well as physical properties are important, such as trim molding and cabinet stock.

Various inspection bureaus and grading agencies typically oversee the grading processes at lumber mills, provide re-inspection services and write grading rules for the products and species they represent.

Architects, engineers and construction contractors should be well versed in the types, grades, species and physical properties of commercial lumber. The study of commercial lumber is an excellent topic for the continuing education requirements of these professionals. More information is available from the US Department of Agriculture's Forest Service.

College Scholarships and Free Money to Pay Your Tuition, Room and Board, and Books!

Why should you have to pay for your education when so many states have a wonderful lottery system that pays for their residents education at a state school? Well, if you are considering a private college, then getting college scholarships and free money for school is going to be important. Also, if you live in a state that does not offer a free education, then you will need free money as well.

One source of free money is the pell grant, which the government awards to those that do not have the money to pay for college on their own. This is something you should apply for through your financial aid office and they may or may not award it to you, but it never hurts to try. This is money you never have to pay back to take advantage of it if you can.

Another source is through offline college scholarships and online scholarships. You can find many scholarships by asking your guidance counselor or talking to different people at the college you plan to attend. You can also find many of the college scholarships and free sources of money for school right online. This is a great place to search for money for school.

You should make sure you apply for each and every scholarship that you even come close to qualifying for. If it is free to submit an application, then do so and you could be rewarded with a scholarship that had a chance to get. This can keep you from having to pay back tens of thousands of dollars in student loans once you graduate and start working.

How to Care For Your Phaleanopsis Orchid

Phaleanopsis are an epiphytic orchid which means their natural habit is growing on branches in a tree or on rock ledges etc. Their roots don’t grow in soil like other plants but are aerial roots and gather moisture from the surrounding atmosphere. This is why in the nurseries they are mostly grown in clear plastic pots, so that the roots are still exposed to light.

They are native to rainforest areas of South East Asia right through from the Himalaya’s to Cape York.

Watering.

Watering is the most common way that people manage to kill their Phaleanopsis orchid. Never actually poor water on the mixture that its growing in like you would other indoor plants. Instead, invest in a spray bottle from the supermarket and every 2 or so days, spray the leaves and aerial roots of the plant. As a rule of thumb, I usually spray approx 125mls (half a cup) of water on each plant every couple of days….give or take.

Remember, their natural habitat is attached to a branch of a tree and gaining its moisture from the humid air in the rainforest, so the spray bottle imitates this. When you see that the grey/whitish aerial roots turn green, you know that the orchid has had enough water.

Fertilising

Feeding your orchid is important, if fed correctly you will be enjoying large healthy plants but also masses upon masses of flowers for up to 9 months of the year!

Orchids have a symbiotic relationship with bacteria. I use on my orchids a weak solution of Fish emulsion, (as this is easy because it comes in liquid form) because fish emulsion is organic it has a high level of bacteria as opposed to chemically based fertilisers which have none. Once a week I mix a weak solution of the Fish Emulsion in the spray bottle and spray the plant and its roots as normal.

Unfortunately, fish emulsion does smell a bit, so its probably best to take the plant outside when your doing this. If you don’t like the idea if fish emulsion and would prefer a chemically based fertiliser then use a weak solution of Aquasol, its high potassium level will encourage strong continuous flowering. I personally alternate between the two, so one week I give the plant fish emulsion, the next week I feed them with Aquasol. Just make sure you mix them at least half the strength recommended on the pack.

Position

The orchids need a bright position, but away from direct sunlight. On a window sill is great, as long as the direct sun never shines through the window and onto the plant. The orchids wont tolerate a dark stuffy room……….if that’s you then perhaps outside in a protected position such as a porch or under a tree.

The best position is in the bathroom, the orchids LOVE it, its all the steam and humidity that a bathroom has that they love……. and they just look so elegant sitting on a vanity.

Flowering

If you follow my directions with the feeding and watering, you could possibly have flowers on your Orchid for up to 9 months of the year! Each set of flowers can last a few months. After one set of flowers have finshed, dont go cutting the stem off at the base. Prune the stem back to the first node under the finished set of flowers and before long you should notice another flower stem emerging from that node. Quiet often it will start to develop long before the other flowers are finished.

Soil – The Key to a Successful Garden

Soil is the determining factor in all your garden endeavors. The success and failure you'll get from your home gardening facility depends on the kind of soil you have.

It's there before important to know the type of soil you have in your garden and how to improve its structure if it's not responding to the needs of your plants.

You should investigate the quality of your garden soil if it warrants the soil nutrients available for your crops. There are only three major plant elements that are mostly needed by all crops in their own growth process, such as Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium.

These soil elements are required by the plants from their early growth period until their productive phase up to maturity or harvest time.

There are other minor soil elements that contribute to the growth vigor of the plants, but they're only consumed in a small quantity as against the 3 major elements that are consumed in large amounts.

To know how the soil contributes to the success in your garden estate, let me illustrate some key points about a productive soil.

Top soil

Looking at your soil profile, it counts about 6 inches of the top rich portion of the upper horizon where all the organic materials including some millions of beneficial bacteria, worms, decayed plant and animal materials, and fungi are found that contribute to make a healthy and rich soil for sustaining plant growth.
These organic materials are the ones that feeds some soil organisms to keep them active to function in enriching to form an organically rich soil.

Subsoil

This is found next to the top soil which is made up of less distinct soil horizons. It does not contain much biological life. However, it has a big role how well plant roots absorb some food nutrients for maximum utilization and how the process of soil draining takes place.

During soil cultivation, you should always loosen the subsoil by plowing or using spade, shovel or garden fork to allow the plant roots to move freely and easy draining out of excess soil water.
A loose subsoil allows more oxygen to reach the plant's root system which is necessary for plant bullish growth.

Clay soil

Clay soil is the less desired type by home gardeners because of its sticky properties that is hard for the plants to grow productively. But, you can improve clay soil by continuing cultivation or plowing to create a more loosen soil and adding some organic materials to enrich it.

Clay soil is only ideal for planting rice in paddies because of its retaining water holding capacity that withstand long water retention needed by rice during its early productive stage.

Assessing the soil characteristics in your garden, you can decide whether it's suited for planting or you need some adjustments to make it organically rich for planting purposes.

Happy gardening!

Tips for Buying the Right Floor Tiles for Your Home

Buying floor tiles may come across as being simple enough. However, just simply browsing to the 'floor tiles' category of a local tiles website or just asking an offline seller to show you their bestselling floor tiles is not enough. If you really want to end up with the right floor tiles both in terms of aesthetics and durability then there are quite a few things to consider as we will look at below.

Light colors

To start off with you need to decide on the right color scheme for your floors. If your rooms are small and dark then light colored tiles are the best choice. If you have large rooms then you can choose darker shades like gray or wood colored tiles.

Do not be afraid of being adventurous

If you have been itching to try the latest colors and designs which you see then do not let the colors in contrast to the size of your room stop you. You can always start by installing the tiles you want in one room and see how that works out prior to planning to redo your entire home.

Never compromise

People need to see tiles as being an investment and not actually a cost which in the later case may lead some people to choose cheaper and lower quality tiles. If you find tiles that are expensive but you really need to have them then look around there are always cheaper sellers willing to offer you a discount.

Always plan ahead

When buying floor tiles it is strongly advised to add an additional 5-10% extra than the number of tiles you actually need. This will allow you to compensate for things like breaks and cuts. Also, having a few tiles just in case you later see that one of the tiles is cracking or the mason made a mistake. Also, many companies offer a refund on tiles which were not used.

Always blend in the grout lines

Your tile grout color needs to compliment the tiles you are buying so that they can blend in.

Bigger not always a better option

If you think that the floor will need lots of tile cuts around the fittings and fixtures then make sure to choose smaller tiles to ensure that there is the least bit of cutting.

Use decors and borders

You will want to add a bit of extra class by breaking up the wall tiling and adding decors.

Check suitability

Always check the wear rating of the floor tiles you're interested in purchasing. This is called the PEI rating and varies depending on the area it is meant for. You may also want to ask the store you are buying floor tiles from if they have ceramic or sometimes porcelain tiles since porcelain is excellent for outdoors and regular domestic floors where heavy traffic is expected.

Maintenance

If you are in the market for natural stone tiles it is important that you get the right advice for both treating and sealing the tiles prior to and after they have been fixed.

Different Stoves For Different Kitchens

Do you have enough space and the proper cooking units in your kitchen? Is there enough room for you to prepare food for the kids when they come home with a bunch of friends or if you're having a party for your friends? If not, you probably need some helping coming up with a solution. Having the right stove can really make a difference in entertaining and preparing, so this guide will help you understand different options available for your kitchen.

In most homes today, we see gas stoves being used. They're better for resale value than electric stoves, so that's something to keep in mind when shopping for a new stove. Once you find the right stove, cooking will be even more enjoyable.

We're lucky to be around in a time where we have the option to choose. When the stove originally came back you had very limited choices-they were small, medium or large. At the end of the day, they were able to cook the food! Maybe it was better that way since it can be overwhelming with so many choices! I'd rather have the options without a doubt !!!

Between engineering, designing new stoves and technological advances there are some incredible options to choose from. There are many stoves out there that we can now say, "wow, that's beautiful."

With all the many options to choose from these days, it's broken down into three basic stoves to choose from. Many people go with a stove and oven combo, then there's a standard gas which is the next most popular. The last option is a junior gas stove.

Let's start with a standard gas stove, which pretty much explains itself. It's a very simple option with simply four burners on the stove top. It does not include anything else to it. If you go with this option, you can purchase a separate oven.

As I mentioned, the most common is a gas stove with an oven included. People love it because it saves space (as opposed to buying a separate oven) and it's really convenient. You'll still have four burners, but you can bake right under the stove as you're cooking.

The final choice to choose from is a junior stove. This typically comes with only two burners, so you'll have limited space to cook. However, if you have limited room in your kitchen, this will take up the least amount of space. If you're adventurous, you can even bring some of these outdoors to cook as well.