Here are my top picks for Must Have Summer Work Clothing to Keep You Cool whether you’re gardening, volunteering for a service project, or working on a building project.

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Must Have Summer Work Clothing to Keep You Cool

It’s been a hot and humid summer here in North Carolina. This is nothing new, except this is the first year I’ve been working construction outside all summer. My work outfits have been put to the test and I’m anxious to share my favorites for staying cool with you.

As most of you know, the Nordstrom anniversary sale is going on and everyone seems to be clamoring to grab deals on some fashionable items. As much as I’d like to buy cute outfits, it’s not practical for me to spend money on clothing that will get ruined while working on building back Etta. Instead, I’ve ditched my cute tops and skirts to compile a list of the most cooling clothing and durable gear to get through the hottest of summer heatwaves.

Here at Pretty Handy Girl, we take work and safety gear very seriously, as you’ll remember from my Ms. Safe T DIY Fashion accessories, I don’t write about fashion often, but I do think it’s important to have safe and durable work clothing that will keep you comfortable all day.

(This is a sponsored post for Duluth Trading Company. This post also contains a few affiliate links for non-Duluth Trading Company clothing.  I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

One of my favorite places to purchase work gear is Duluth Trading Company —which  is why I reached out to them to be one of the Saving Etta sponsors. I’ve been buying their clothes for years and appreciate their rugged durability. The designers at Duluth Trading put a lot of thought into creating pieces that move with your body. (And I can tell you, there are lots of body contortions happening when you build a house.) If your clothing can’t flex and move with you while handling the power tools, you’re going to rip them or come home chafed.

No Breeze, It’s Cool

Two summers ago, Duluth Trading Company sent me my first Armachillo Long Sleeve Plaid Shirt to try. They claimed it would keep me cooler than a standard cotton t-shirt. After a week working on my shed during a heat wave, I ordered two more shirts and wore them all summer while working. (It’s worth noting, that Duluth Trading Company changed the design of this shirt to eliminate the mesh openings in the back (but kept the underarm gussets for better arm motion.) Honestly, I didn’t like the appearance of the mesh back flaps, but luckily it seems the shirt is still cool without them.)

Armachillo Long Sleeve Plaid Shirt (Coral Plaid)

The weather in North Carolina can be unpredictable. We had a stretch of weather in late Spring where it was cool in the morning and beautiful all afternoon. On those days I paired an Armachillo Long Sleeve Plaid Shirt with a tank top. The long sleeves gives me extra sun protection on cloudless days.

Armachillo Long Sleeve Plaid Shirt (Royal Blue Plaid)Armachillo Cooling Racerback Tank Top (Aqua)

One hot summer day I had to work on site and then attend the Home for Good Project for media coverage. With only my truck or a port-a-potty available for an outfit change, I decided to wear this blue oasis plaid shirt for both work and the appearance. Luckily I managed to stay cool and clean enough to pull off the media appearance. As a bonus I received two compliments on how pretty my “blouse” was. This shirt is now retired from work because I love it too much to let it get stained or soiled.

Armachillo Long Sleeve Plaid Shirt (Blue Oasis Plaid), Maven Slim Work Jeans by Dovetail Workwear

One more note about the Armachillo plaid shirts; I keep one in my backpack in case I have to crawl under the house, wrestle insulation, or protect my arms from thorns while doing yard work. The shirt folds up into a small space and can hang out at the bottom of my backpack without adding any weight or bulk.

Armachillo Cooling Racerback Tank Top (Ink)Armachillo Long Sleeve Plaid Shirt (Discontinued Color)

Hats Off to My Framer

The first day I met my framer, he pulled out a wide brim straw hat from his truck and wore it the entire day. He swore it was the best way to stay cool by keeping the sun off his neck and shoulders. That was also the day I made the mistake of wearing a black t-shirt and not owning a wide brim hat. I nearly passed out from the heat. The next day I scoured the Duluth Trading website for women’s hats and found this breathable wide brim hat. The first day I wore it on site, my framer winked his eye and said, “I see you listened to my advice on a good hat.”

Armachillo Cooling Racerback Tank Top (Ink), Crushable Sun Hat (Cadet Blue), and Dry on the Fly Convertible Pants (Smoky Tan)

Revealing Just Enough Skin

My least favorite part of this job is climbing ladders all day. By 3pm, the heat and activity has started to turn my brain to mush. It’s enough to make a person want to strip down and go naked. Luckily, I discovered the Armachillo clothing by Duluth Trading Company. The Armachillo line has a unique “Made-in-the-Jade™ technology”. Every fiber is infused with microscopic jade that dissipates heat on contact and is sewn into the clothing. Which is why this Armachillo racerback tank top is my favorite work shirt. The tank top lets the breeze hit my arms, but is modest enough to hide any side boob or cleavage. The waist band has enough hold to keep the tank top from riding up, and it also provides a looser fit around my middle section (which is more forgiving for a “curvaceous” figure.)

I bet you’ve never felt the true effects of “heat rises” unless you’ve installed blocking for a light fixture at the top of a fourteen foot ceiling.  It was already close to 93F outside, the air in the rafters must have been over 100F. I was extremely glad I chose to wear my racerback tank top that day.

Armachillo Cooling Racerback Tank Top (Deep Jade), Dry on the Fly Convertible Pants (Smoky Tan)

I don’t usually wear shorts on the job site. I’m more likely to scrape or cut up my knees or shins and I hate my legs (even without bruises). But, any day that threatens to reach 95F or higher, I wear shorts. Luckily I found my favorite lightweight work pants in a short style. Air flow on sweaty skin is key to staying cool on a hot and humid day. Installing the 118 year old reclaimed siding material on the porch ceiling was a labor of love. It took me all week to scrape the paint, seal them, hang, and caulk the seams. I managed to stay cool, but unfortunately I scraped up my shin in front of the entire crew of framers working next door. Luckily I kept my cool (Get it? Kept cool. LOL.)

Women’s Dry on the Fly Shorts (Gray), Armachillo Cooling Racerback Tank Top (Aqua)

These cute overall shorts were a godsent while working on ladders. All the pockets and the hammer loop allowed me to stuff my pockets with nails and hang my hammer instead of wearing a bulky tool belt. Speaking of staying cool, Keen sent me a pair of their Atlanta cool steel-toed breathable work shoes to try. This pair has been on my feet every day on site. They are several years old but are holding up wonderfully. Besides keeping my feet from getting too sweaty, the soles offer great grip when climbing up roof slopes.

Heirloom Gardening Overall ShortsNo Yank Tank Cami (Dark Coral)Stay-Put Lightweight Ankle Socks, Keen Atlanta Cool Steel-Toed Shoes

One of the least glamorous jobs of being a general contractor is picking up after the subcontractors. The day before insulation was installed, I crawled under the house to remove any construction debris left behind. Gloves are a necessity in any crawlspace. They protect your hands from rocks and construction debris and let you swipe away cob webs.

Another necessity is a good bra. It was apparent that my regular underwire bras were going to get destroyed from all the sweat and demolition dirt. Plus, they chafed my sides as I bent and stretched all day long. I started wearing jog bras, but most of them didn’t provide much support. I found the Hellrassiere Medium Support Work Bra and thought it was a mirage. The bra is comfortable and offers much better support than a stretchy jog bra. (One note: They run large, so be sure to order one size smaller.)

Women’s All Season Work GlovesArmachillo Cooling Racerback Tank Top (Peony), Hellrassiere Medium Support Work Bra (black)

Somehow my favorite lightweight work pants evaded a picture. The Flextra Tough Slim Leg Work Pants are flattering but also have hidden mesh in the yoke and knees to keep the air flowing on hot days. You can also slip knee pads into the front pockets to protect your knees on those days you’re crawling around a lot.

I hope my list gave you some helpful recommendations should you find yourself outside working in the garden, on a service project, hiking, camping, or on a construction site. If you’re also a Duluth Trading Company fan, I’d love to know your favorite Duluth apparel!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Duluth Trading Company. I was not told what to write or say about Duluth Trading Company. I am very particular about the brands that I partner with. If I don’t love them, I don’t promote them. I will also always disclose when you are reading a sponsored post.

SMOKE DETECTORS | What you don't know could kill you

Okay, now that I have your attention, did you know that approximately every three hours, a home fire death occurs somewhere in our nation. And 66 % of those occur in homes without working smoke alarms or detectors?* The most common reason those detectors weren’t working? Worn out or removed battery.

Photo from CreativeCommons.org – courtesy of WickedChimp

I’m sure you have heard that you need to replace your detector batteries every time you change your clocks (Spring and Fall or every 6 months.) Are you good about doing that ? If not, I hope you will now. At the very least decide on a date to change your smoke detector batteries annually.

What about when you are vacationing? Do you test the smoke detectors in your rental house? Testing the detectors takes all of a few minutes to press the “Test” button on each detector and wait for the alarm to sound.

Don’t rely on the vacation homeowner to check the alarms. There is always a chance that renters could have removed a low battery from a detector. Several years ago there was a horrible fire a few blocks away from the beach house we usually rent. Seven young students died in the fire. It was never determined whether the smoke detectors were working or not, but one of the survivors didn’t remember hearing any go off. Don’t let yourself become a statistic.

What type of smoke detector should you buy? Read more

Table Saw Safety Guidelines | Pretty Handy Girl

I’m really excited to introduce this Rockstar DIYer today. Nick is an extremely talented woodworker who is as passionate about his projects as he is his tools. Nick is the lead over at The Sawdust Maker. You will learn a variety of woodworking tips and tricks on his blog, so be sure to check it out and follow along as he builds some amazing things. Nick is here today to talk to you about Table Saw Safety and Guidelines to follow that will keep you and your fingers safe.

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I hear that table saw buzzing away, I think Nick is ready to kick up the sawdust and make some noise! Put your hands together for The Sawdust Maker!

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Friends, it’s Nick from over at The Sawdust Maker! A site devoted to helping others take their woodworking skills to the next level. While I am in the middle a joint series on my website, I wanted to take a minute to talk to you about table saw safety.

The table saw is the most used tool in my shop. It also happens to be the most intimidating tool for most beginners to use. So lets get a grasp on these basic safety guidelines to follow.

Before we dive into this, I want to urge you to find your table saw manual and read it. Wait, what? Yes people… actually read these things. It will cover the basic safety rules as well as any safety features specific to your saw.

Now, before you turn your saw on, do the following:

  • Make sure you’re not wearing loose fitting clothes. This doesn’t mean you need to wiggle into your skinny jeans… just make sure nothing is accessible for the blade or work material to catch.
  • If you are wearing long sleeves, roll them up past your elbow’s.
  • Keep shirt pockets free of items.
  • Remove any jewelry.
  • Wear non-skid, well fitting shoes… last thing you want is to slip or trip into the blade!
  • If your hair is long, pull it up into a ponytail.
  • Wear ear and eye protection.
  • Don’t operate while tired or under the influence. Keep those creative juices for your design process!
  • Unplug your machine and do the following:
    • Visually check your saw for damaged components:
      • Check the power cord
      • Check the Blade
        • Look for Gum or Pith on the blade, clean it if it is dirty.
        • Check the carbide and make sure it isn’t chipped or missing teeth.
        • Keep it sharp. It is a lot cheaper than replacing them and will help keep those burn marks down!
      • Check to make sure that the guards, splitter, riving knife are in place and free of damage.
    • Check the alignment of the fence, ensuring it is parallel with the blade. A quick reference is to line it up with the t-slot and visual check to see if it is aligned.
    • Ensure the blade is tight.
    • Check the belts for excessive wear.
    • Check the alignment of the splitter/riving knife.
    • Is there enough room around you for the board you are wanting to cut? There is nothing more annoying than getting part way through a cut and realizing that you don’t have enough room to finish the cut!

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Now we are almost ready to cut a board! Here are some things to keep in mind when stepping up to the whirling beastly hunk of iron. Read more

You may remember when we created our Summer calendar and bucket list. The boys really responded well to being able to see what was coming up on the calendar. And I enjoyed not having to pull up my Google Calendar on the computer whenever I was put on the spot for a play date. So, continuing to use a calendar in the kitchen was a no brainer. But, creating new calendars on poster board each month — although fun — seemed a bit tedious.

In a sheer stroke of genius suggested by Pretty Handsome Guy I decided to paint a chalkboard calendar on our fridge: Read more

I realized recently that I haven’t given any updates on our adoption of Pretty Handy Dog (aka Buddy.) I’m happy to say that Buddy has been with us for a year and a half now, and he has adjusted to living with us (crazy boys and all) just fine. After the first year, he began to truly show us his personality. He can be goofy and wrestle and run around like a maniac once in a while. But, normally, this is how he rolls:

He rolls into a tight ball and snores like a sailor! He’s also what you call a velcro dog and doesn’t let me out of his sight. We’ve heard from sitters that after I leave, Buddy will pace and cry by the door. When the sitter asks the kids if Buddy needs to go to out they answer, “No, he’s just crying because he wants Mommy.” Ahh, another Momma’s Boy ;-).

With the weather being in the 100’s here in NC, I’ve resorted to walking Buddy at night. Actually, I’m normally a night walker. On these nighttime excursions, I wear a reflector vest for myself, but I always worried that cars have a hard time seeing my mostly black dog. So, I thought it would be a good idea to make him his own dog safety clothing. A reflective bandana seemed like the perfect idea. Read more


I feel like I’m constantly shouting safety messages at you. But, I can’t stress enough how important it is to wear hearing protection when you are exposed to loud noises. But, did you know that the noise doesn’t even have to be super loud? Exposure to higher levels for an extended period of time can also cause hearing loss.

Here is an infographic from 3M that shows common household noises that may be harming your hearing:

I have a pair of 3M Tekk ear muffs that I use when sawing wood and using my power tools. But, Pretty Handsome Guy doesn’t have a pair. He isn’t allowed doesn’t use my tools very much, but he does do most of the yard work. When he cuts the lawn he uses ear plugs. I decided it was time to upgrade his little foamies to some rockin’ headphones! Last week, I gave him a pair of Digital WorkTunes™ HearingProtector and AM/FM Stereo Radio ear muffs. He was thrilled to try out something that allowed him to rock out while he was chopping blades.

Read more

 

According to my facebook and twitter friends, I am not the only one who gets burned EVERYTIME I use a hot glue gun. For this reason, I typically will hand sew, nail, or E-6000 something before I will use a hot glue gun. But, every once in a while, there is just no substitute for hot glue. For example, when working with faux flowers and moss, nothing beats hot glue.

So, this week I decided to put an end to hot glue gun burns!  I googled “Hot Glue Gun Safety” last week and learned a few tips about using a glue gun. If you are like me, you may do a head slap and feel pretty stupid after reading this post. If you are already the intelligent being who never gets burned when using hot glue, well then you can close your browser and I now bequeath you with a “genius” award. Now scram! For the rest of us, keep reading.

Dedication: I dedicate this blog post to my dear friend Sarah VMK! She and I were discussing all the burns I tend to get while using a glue gun and she remarked, “You really need to do a post about this.” So, here it is Sarah!

Remember to use EXTREME caution:

The most important thing to know about using a hot glue gun is that it is dangerous! Never mind that you can buy one for $5 or less and some of them look like they were made by the same company that makes McDonald’s happy meal toys.

Or that most of them do not come with instruction manuals. Treat this little “gun” like a power tool and use extreme caution when using it. Don’t let those dual temp glue guns fool you. “Low” temperature is still hot enough to burn you. Listen up y’all so we can say goodbye to glue gun burns FOREVER!

photo courtesy of HelloHayley

Proper tools:


When you get ready to use a hot glue gun, be sure you have these things close at hand.

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

  • Heat resistant mat – a foil wrapped piece of cardboard, silicone mat or a cookie sheet will work fine
  • Needle-nosed pliers or tweezers for holding small objects
  • Popsicle sticks for pressing the glue down – Keep the popsicle stick in your hand so you won’t be tempted to use your finger
  • Bowl of ice water
  • Clean dry washcloth
  • Hot glue gun with dual temp (use it on low setting)
  • Extra glue sticks

There are also finger caps sold to protect your fingers if you are really concerned about safety.

Long vs. short power cord:


The power cord on my glue gun is not very long. It barely reaches to the nearest outlet. Don’t allow your cord to dangle in mid-air for someone to snag or trip on. Get an extension cord so that it can lay flat on the floor while you are working. This will also give you more reach while working with the glue gun.

If the cord does get snagged and your glue gun starts to fall over, resist all the temptations to grab it. Just let it fall (and hopefully it won’t land on you or anyone else.)

 

Your glue gun at rest:

Ideally, you want to rest your glue gun upright on a flat heat resistance surface. I use mine on this foil wrapped piece of cardboard. But, inevitably the gun falls over sideways. I used to instinctively try to stop it from falling. But, that is a burn hazard waiting to happen.

Now I just lay the glue gun on its side making sure that the hot tip is not touching anything. No more tipping glue gun.

 

Working with your hot glue gun:

Gather all your craft pieces together and make sure that they are within reach so you don’t have to lean over your glue gun to retrieve anything. Make sure all distractions, children, pets, etc. are out of your way. Remember, this is a dangerous tool!

Think about your project before you start. Are you going to put glue on the object or press the object into glue. What is the best procedure that keeps your fingers the furthest from the hot glue.

Squeeze hot glue onto the object you want to glue. For decorative moss balls, I decided it was best to drizzle hot glue onto a piece of moss.

Roll your ball or light bulb onto the moss. (That’s right, I mossed a light bulb! Hey, I had to find something to do with these bulbs leftover from the hollywood light fixture.) Be very careful to keep hands away from the moss.

Use a popsicle stick to press the moss to the ball (or lightbulb.)

As the bare spots get smaller, you may decide to add hot glue to the ball (err, light bulb.)

Lightly set the moss into the glue, then use a popsicle stick to press it firmly into the glue.

 

As long as you face the bulb base away from the viewer, no one would ever guess that it was actually a light bulb!

When working with smaller objects, DO NOT hold them with your fingers. It is best to put glue on the larger object and press the smaller ones into the glue. Pick up your small object with needle-nosed pliers or tweezers.

Place it, then use your popsicle stick to firmly press the small object into the glue.

If you absolutely have to put glue on a smaller object. Do not use your fingers or hands! Use the tweezers or pliers to hold it while you add the glue.

Okay – and I know – sometimes there is no substitute for using your fingers. If you decide to take the risk of putting your fingers in mortal danger, let the glue cool for a few seconds, then you can gently reposition the object as long as there is NO glue near your flesh.

 

If you do get burned:

Even the most careful preparation and concentration will not protect you from an occasional accident. So, think like the Boy Scouts, be prepared.

Keep a bowl of ice water nearby. If you burn your finger tips, dunk them in the ice water as soon as possible. Keep a washcloth at hand in case you burn your arm, leg or something that can’t be dunked in the bowl. Then you can wet the washcloth and apply it to the burn. It is crucial to cool down a burn as soon as possible to reduce the damage.

 

After your project:

Unplug your hot glue gun as soon as you are done with your project. Pick the cord up off the floor so no one can accidentally tug on it. Let your gun cool COMPLETELY before storing it away.

Inspect your glue gun periodically for signs of splits or breaks or signs of wear and tear. As soon as you discover any problems, discontinue using the hot glue gun and discard it. Remember, they are cheap and can be easily replaced! Your fingers will thank you.

 

 

How to Easily Test for Lead Paint

How to Easily Test for Lead Paint

Good morning boys and girls! Today I have a tale with a moral for you. Go ahead and gather around and put on your listening ears.

This is the story of a woman named Mrs. Noggin.


She moved into an old house built in 1940. A friend told her that old homes could contain lead paint, so she turned to the yellow pages to find someone to check her home for lead paint.


First, she called Mr. Nose. Mr. Nose claimed to be the most knowledgeable expert in the field. He could sniff lead paint from a mile away.

He spent about 15 minutes with his snout held high, then pronounced her home safe. But, she didn’t feel safe. So she called Mr. Tongue. He claimed to be the most professional expert lead paint detection service in the area.

He spent 20 minutes licking every painted surface in her home and then gave her a licked stamp of “lead-free” approval for her home.

She was still a bit concerned so she contacted Eyeball Lead Paint Detector. He told her to rest easy because he could spot lead paint in a snowstorm while blind-folded!

He spent only 10 minutes searching her home. His eyes blinked quickly as he scanned each room. Then he told her that he hadn’t seen a speck of lead paint.

Mrs. Noggin felt better and settled down for her coffee and some YouTube browsing.

That’s when she stumbled upon this video:

Poor Mrs. Noggin. She should have watched the video before calling the “so-called” experts.

She had no idea that lead is not detectable by sight, smell, or taste (although lead paint does have a sweet taste making it attractive to kids and pets when they lick or chew on it).

The moral of the story boys and girls is to use your head to detect lead! Spend a few bucks to purchase your own 3M LeadCheck Swabs. You’ll have the results in seconds and avoid costly testing.

If the area you are testing has multiple layers of paint, the top layer may be clear, but underlayers may still contain lead. If you are going to disturb the paint, it’s best to use a razor blade to cut through all the layers of paint and then test with the LeadCheck swab.

In all seriousness, if you test and the results are positive, you should definitely proceed with caution. One teaspoon full of lead dust can be enough to contaminate your home. If lead paint is used on a surface in your home (doors, windows, trim molding, floors, etc.), it’s best to hire a certified lead paint abatement specialist. Lead paint professionals are trained and certified to handle lead paint removal safely.

For items that can be thrown away like toys, furniture, or other items, contact your local solid waste management facility to determine how to properly dispose of the item.

I contacted our county’s solid waste management department and was told that our landfill can accept lead-painted furniture as long as the lead paint is not in liquid, fine chips, or powder form. They told me I don’t need to bag it, but I did anyway because I don’t want anyone to accidentally be exposed. Plus, I am fearful that a curbside treasure hunter may unknowingly take home my lead-laden pedestal.

I also called the National Lead Information Center and asked about my green cabinet that had tested positive for lead paint (where the paint wasn’t chipping.) The representative told me that I can coat the cabinet in a few coats of a topcoat (like polyurethane or polyacrylic) to protect myself and my kids. I will definitely not sand it, which would cause the lead particles to become airborne. Instead I’ll gently clean the surface with a disposable wipe. Then once it is dry I will coat it with multiple layers of polyurethane.

She did recommend having my children tested for lead in their system. Unfortunately, the most accurate test requires a blood draw.

For more information about lead paint contact one of these resources:

National Lead Information Center: 1-800-424-LEAD
Consumer Product Safety Commission: 1-800-638-2772
EPA Website

Recently I decided my garden bench that used to be a Craig’s List bed frame, needed to be refinished. I repaired, sanded and repainted the bench before setting it onto our porch where it would get less exposure to the rain.

Well, it wasn’t weathering the elements too nicely. Or maybe I should say it was weathering them poorly. Regardless, I really liked the bench and decided to strip it and start over again. I believe the main problem was that the bed frame was not solid wood, it was glued pieces. Then, if you factor in that I used spray primer and spray paint, the rain and moisture got in easily and caused the wood to swell and some of the glued joints to come undone.

But, the bench was still structurally sound, so we moved it onto the screen porch and I got ready to refinish it.

Refinishing a Weathered Garden Bench

Safey First, (as Meri-K will tell you.) Because I was sanding and scraping the old paint I had to wear eye protection and a dust mask. I also wore ear plugs while sanding and gloves to keep my hands from getting rough.

Materials:

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

Instructions:

Begin by using the wire brush to remove any flaking paint and to get into the grooves of the spindles (and other hard to reach places.)

Tip from a Handy Girl: I am about to share with you a helpful time saving trick, so pay attention. If you have a power sander that holds the sandpaper with a clip. You can stack your sandpaper. I put the 220 grit on the bottom, then put the 1oo grit on top of that. After sanding my bench with the 100 grit, I simply tear off the top sheet and expose the finer 220 grit.

Sand down the bench with a rough 100 grit paper first, then follow up with a finer 220 grit sand paper.

Secure any loose pieces of the bench. To use Gorilla Glue, you need to moisten the two pieces that you will secure.

Then put a small amount of Gorilla glue onto one of the pieces.

Clamp the joined pieces and allow to dry overnight. (By the way, don’t waist your money on cheap clamps. That little black & orange number below just bit the dust last weekend. My Irwin clamp is a CHAMP!) Check back after 30 minutes to wipe off any Gorilla glue that has spread out of the seam.

Because the posts on my bench were really falling apart, I decided to remove the ball finials.

Use a saw to cut both finials off.

Patch the hole using toothpicks and wood glue.

After the glue has completely dried, saw off the toothpicks.

Add a curtain rod finial on top of the sawed off posts.

It looks like those finials were there all along!

Clean your bench off with a damp rag to remove any sawdust.

Cover the entire bench with one coat of KILZ Clean Start Primer. Want to know why I use KILZ Clean Start primer for all my projects now? Read how much I love it in this post where I used the same primer for painting a bamboo rug. I’m never buying any other primers (unless I’m priming a tricky surface, then I’ll use BIN 1-2-3 oil based primer. But, I won’t be happy about using that stinky stuff.)

After the primer has dried, use a piece of fine grit sand paper to gently remove any burrs or imperfections.

Then wipe off the bench with another damp wipe. I used Benjamin Moore Impervo Semi Gloss paint for the top coat on my bench. It leaves a really tough coating and will hold up to wear and tear.

Roll on the paint in one area. Then follow up with a brush to even out the paint. Remember to run your brush in the same direction as the grain of the wood.

Lightly sand after the first coat has dried and finish up with a second coat of Benjamin Moore Impervo paint. I didn’t add polyurethane, but if you are really concerned about a piece of furniture that will be exposed to the elements, go ahead and add two or more coats of polyurethane.

My bench should successfully last outside now for three reasons:

  1. I moved it inside the porch and out of the direct sun and rain.
  2. I primed the bench with a good quality brush-on primer (instead of a spray paint type.)
  3. I brushed on two coats of paint making sure I got into all the cracks and crevices of the bench.

Here she is in her newfound home, our screen porch:



With zero VOCs and the quality that is standard in all the KILZ products, this primer is a must have for the DIY painter!

 

Disclaimer: The products mentioned in this post are products that I use and stand behind. The opinions expressed in this post are authentically mine. I was sent a gallon of KILZ Clean Start Primer and the Irwin Quick Grip clamp to try out, but I was not paid or swayed to write favorable things about the products. If I don’t like a product, I won’t write about it. And I certainly won’t pass it off on my valued readers.

 

 

I had the pleasure of talking to Meri-K Appy the other day. She is the president of the Home Safety Council and has over 30 years experience talking about home safety. Meri-K has a wealth of knowledge about preventing injuries while working on and around your home.

I recorded my talk with her and hope you will take some time to listen. It is very valuable information! Feel free to put the audio on and then do something else while you listen.

You may also want to take some time to browse the Home Safety Council website. The site is filled with loads of information about how to keep you and your family safety (not just during DIY projects.)

SafetyTalk.mp3

 

Cliff Notes:

I took some notes during the talk. These sum up some of the important information:

 

There are 3 Parts of the Body that are Most Important to Protect:

1. Eyes (Vision) – Wear safety goggles when doing any type of DIY project

No need to look like Professor Scientist! You can wear eye protection that is fashionable and comfortable!

3M Tekk Tortoise Shell Safety Glasses

3M Tekk Fuel Light Safety Eyewear

When should you wear eye protection?

a. Using Power Tools

b. Mowing the Lawn

c. Sanding, cutting glass

d. Any activity where objects can become airborne

2. Ears (Hearing) – About 30 million people are exposed to dangerously high levels of noise. Anything over 85 decibels can damage your hearing.

Some examples of common decibel levels:

    • City Traffic Noise (inside a car) – 85db
    • Lawn Mower – 107db
    • Power Saw – 110db
    • Rock Concert – 115 db

When should you wear ear protections?

Ear protection should be worn anytime you are participating in an activity that has loud noise. Even noises that don’t seem excessively loud can cause hearing loss when sustained exposure occurs.

Ear protection is cheap! Foam inserts cost only a few bucks and will protect your hearing.

Inexpensive Ear Protection – Foam Ear Plugs

For better protection and comfort, use ear muff style ear protectors. Check out these! They have a am/fm radio built into them. So you can rock out (at a safe decibel level) while working on your projects.

3M Digital Work tunes ear muffs

Be aware, that one danger while wearing hearing protection is not being able to hear a child come up to you. So make sure your children are being attended to when you need to use power tools and hearing protection.

3. Lungs (Breathing) – Great care should be taken when working with anything that has dust or chemical particulates.

    • Some examples of when you should wear a mask or respirator:
    • Sanding
    • Scraping
    • Spray Painting
    • Using Chemicals
    • Disturbing anything that contains lead, asbestos or other potentially dangerous particles

You’ve seen the scary chemical warfare respirators:

You don’t have to wear that fashion for home repairs (unless you are working around lead or asbestos.)

Protection can be as simple as this dust mask:

8661Pc1-A/8661 - Dust Mask 5Pk

Better yet, 3M has a cool flow valve dust mask for a few dollars more that is more comfortable and less hot:

3M 8511 N95 Particulate Respirator Mask (10 pack)

Test lead paint in your home with these easy to use Lead Check testers:

3M Lead Test Kit – 2 pk – $12.45

Top Causes of Home Improvement Injuries:

  1. Falling from a height (beyond broken bones you could receive head trauma)
  2. Harsh chemicals and poisons (Using and not following the warning labels)
  3. Electricity (electrocution and/or fire if wiring is done improperly)
  4. Power tool injuries (cuts, burns, lacerations, etc.)
  5. Fatigue (tired, using medications, or controlled substances)
  6. Poor Lighting (Unable to see what you are working on.)

Home improvement Injuries are Completely Preventable:

  1. Be sure to 3 points of contact on ladders ( i.e. one hand and two feet on a ladder at all times.)
  2. Always read labels and follow directions (ventilation, safety gear, disposal, etc.)
  3. Electricity (hire a licensed professional if you are unfamiliar with building codes and wiring safety.)
  4. Get trained on how to use power tools (don’t trust an instructor that isn’t wearing proper safety gear.)
  5. Be alert, awake, healthy, and not taking any substances that can impair you when DIYing.
  6. Work in a well lit area.
  7. Consider hiring a professional for lead paint remediation, plumbing, electrical or any profession that requires a license.

 

Important Websites and Phone Number:

If you ever have any questions about lead in your home and how to deal with it:

3MLeadCheck.com

National Lead Information Center: 1-800-424-LEAD(5323)

If you have any questions about the presence of lead, asbestos or radon in you home, contact the EPA or go to their website for more information. These organizations have been set up to protect your health. Not to make your life more difficult!

EPA.gov

National Center for Healthy Housing

More information about 3M safety gear and where you can get your own:

3MTekk.com

 

Disclosure: Meri-K Appy and Pretty Handy Girl are not paid sponsors of 3M. However, 3M made a donation to the Home Safety Council to fund more research and development preventing injuries.

Some of the images above are linked to affiliate links which pay a very small percentage to Pretty Handy Girl. Other images simply link to online stores where you can purchase the product for your convenience.