Welcome to another tool tutorial. Today I’m going to save you time and effort by teaching you how to use a sander.

How to Use a Sander

How to Use a Sander

If you don’t have a power sander, you’ll likely recognize this contraption below. That’s a manual sanding block. It’s great, but personally I like to move quickly through the sanding phase of a project.

Reclaimed Lumber Farmhouse Table | Pretty Handy Girl

Especially because I feel like I’ve grown out of the hand sanding phase of my life. LOL.

When to Use a Sander:

Using a power sander can speed through the process of smoothing wood and other materials. It’s typically used to either prep a surface or finish a surface before applying paint, stain, or a top coat.

  • A sander can also knock off splinters and round over sharp corners.

  • It’s also great for prepping surfaces to paint (especially pre-finished or raw furniture.)

How to Get a Smooth Paint Finish without a Paint Sprayer | Pretty Handy Girl

  • A sander can also be used to give a beautiful aged finish to any project you are working on.

Chalk Painted Wooden Stool | Pretty Handy Girl

  • Or help eliminate imperfections from a surface.

  • Sanders can also be used to remove rust from metal.

Upcycled Metal Rolling Cart Plant Stand | Pretty Handy Girl

When NOT to Use a Power Sander:

A power sander should never be used when working with materials that would be hazardous when airborne, like asbestos or lead paint. If you suspect these materials in your home, it’s best to consult with a professional abatement specialist. Learn how to test for lead paint in this article. If you have a house built in or before 1978, you might have asbestos. Learn everything you wanted to know about asbestos here.

Need to remove lead paint? You will be much safer if you use a chemical stripper. Learn how to strip paint here.

How to Strip Paint Off a Door | Pretty Handy Girl

Personal Protective Equipment for Sanding:

  • Dust Mask
  • Safety Glasses
  • Hearing Protection
  • Optional: Gloves

When using a sander, it is essential that you wear a dust mask to protect your lungs. Eye protection needs to be worn to protect your eyes from sawdust or splinters. And finally, wear hearing protection because exposure to the noise of power tools over time can damage your hearing.

Finally, gloves are not essential, but sanding can dry your hands and make them rough.

Different Types of Sanders:

There are several types of sanders, but today we’ll stick with the most common power sanders used by DIY enthusiasts because of their portability.

  • Sheet Sander
  • Random Orbital Sander
  • Detail Sander

Sheet Sander:

The first is a sheet sander. This sander is named because you cut a sheet of sandpaper to attach to the sander.

How To Replace Sheet Sander Sandpaper:

When the sandpaper gets torn or shows wear, it’s time to replace it (or if you need to switch the sandpaper grit.) Look for the clamps on each side of the sheet sander base and release them to remove sandpaper.

replacing sheet sander sandpaper

Mark the size of your sander’s base on the sandpaper.

Cut a piece of sandpaper to size (add about a 1/2″ on each end to be able to clamp to.)

Feed one end into one side clamp and depress the lever to hold the sandpaper.

Feed the other side under the clamp and secure.

When sanding a lot, I like to load several sheets into my sheet sander. This way I can quickly tear off a layer when it’s worn or when I need to move to the next grit.

Random Orbital Sander:

The second most common type of sander is a random orbital sander. Named because the base moves around in a random elliptical motion. Personally this is the type of sander I use most for handheld sanding. It’s lightweight and allows me to get the majority of the sanding done quickly.

How to Strip Paint Off a Door | Pretty Handy Girl

How to Replace Sandpaper on a Random Orbital Sander:

The random orbital sander saves you time when it’s time to change the sandpaper. The sandpaper discs are held on with a velcro-like hook and loop system.

To remove, simply pull the sandpaper off the base of the sander. Then replace it with a new sheet being careful to line up the sandpaper with the vent holes on the sander.

removing worn orbital sander paper, replacing hook and loop sandpaper

Easy and quick. Now you can continue sanding.

Detail Sander:

Most sanders lack the size to get into tight corners or grooves. Those tasks are best left for the detail sander.

Rustic Pallet Serving Tray | Pretty Handy Girl

Smaller in size, and usually with a pointed head, detail sanders typically use a hook and loop sandpaper system for quick changes.

How Much Do Sanders Cost?

(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.)

3 sanders

A good power sander shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. Prices will range from $20 to over $200 for brand name sanders. But, you can purchase a good sander for $50-$100.

Personally I have a cordless sander and a corded sander. I love the ability to use the cordless sander in the yard without needing to pull a power cord with me. But, I usually prefer the longevity of sanding with a corded sander. My sheet sander is old and gets less use because the vibrations are much stronger leaving me with numb hands after sanding for a while.

About Sandpaper:

Sandpaper comes in a wide variety of colors and grits. The colors do not mean a specific grit across brands, but within a brand they help easily identify the sandpaper grit.

  • Coarse Grit: 40 – 60
  • Medium Grit: 80 – 180
  • Fine Grit: 200-600
  • Super Fine Grit: Over 600 grit

When sanding a raw piece of wood or something that needs aggressive sanding to remove a finish, start with a rough sandpaper with a 40- to 60-grit. For smoothing out imperfections and scratches, you need to move on to a 80- to 180-grit sandpaper. The final finishing of a wood piece requires a fine-grit sandpaper with a 200- to 600-grit. Super fine grit is usually reserved for metal, glass, or other non-wood surfaces.

How to Use a Power Sander:

Sanders are either battery-powered or corded. If using a battery-powered sander make sure you have a charged battery. Plug in your corded sander.

SKIL orbital sander

Attach the appropriate grit sandpaper to the base.

Look for the on/off switch on your sander. Turn the tool on and gently set it on the material you need to sand. Use slow sweeping motions to methodically sand your workpiece.

How to Fill Holes and Knots in Wood | Pretty Handy Girl

Once you have a uniform finish, switch to a finer grit sandpaper. Repeat the process above. Continue sanding until you have a super smooth surface (or desired finish.)

sand all boards

Wipe off sanding dust with a damp rag or tack cloth. Empty the dust collection bag on your sander if you have one.  Now it’s time to finish your project! Add stain, paint, or a top coat to protect your project.

Video Sanding Tutorial:

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. If you want to see a video of using a sander, watch how I finished a branch to use as a towel bar in my sons’ bathroom:

Happy sanding!

Organize Your Sandpaper and Sanders:

Once you find a love for sanding, you’ll probably want to store your sandpaper and sanders neatly. Learn how The Handyman’s Daughter built this simple sanding station.

Get the plans to build this sander and sandpaper storage unit at The Handyman's Daughter!

How to Make a Long Clamp with Short Clamps | Pretty Handy GirlHow to Make a Long Clamp with Shorter Clamps

When you are trying to outfit your workshop with equipment it can be tempting to skip purchasing more expensive long clamps. After all, how often do you really need to clamp something longer than 12 – 18″? Luckily, I’m here to justify your decision to purchase two short clamps in place of one long clamp, because here’s How to Make a Long Clamp with two Shorter Clamps!

How to Make a Long Clamp with Short Clamps | Pretty Handy Girl

(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.)

When it comes time to clamp that extra long project, grab two of the same brand clamps (this may also work with different brands, but you’ll just have to experiment). I use Irwin Quick Grip clamps. 

How to Make a Long Clamp with Short Clamps | Pretty Handy Girl

Open the two clamps to the full extension. Set the grip handle side of one clamp on one side of your item to clamp.

How to Make a Long Clamp with Short Clamps | Pretty Handy Girl

Take the second clamp and flip it toward the opposite side, resting the handle side on the opposite side of the item.

Then set the two middle clamp pads against one another to form an “S” shape as shown below.)

How to Make a Long Clamp with Short Clamps | Pretty Handy Girl

Tighten the two clamps and you have one long clamp made from two shorter clamps!

How to Make a Long Clamp with Short Clamps | Pretty Handy Girl

Tell me the truth, did you already know about this clamp hack? I debated whether to write this post because the idea is so simple, I figured it may be nothing new.

If you didn’t know how to make one long clamp out of two smaller ones, I hope this tip helps you one day. I know it really helped me this weekend when I was trying to clamp a larger picture frame.

How to Make a Long Clamp with Short Clamps | Pretty Handy Girl

Do you have any helpful workshop tips to share? I’d love to hear them.

Top 10 Power Tools Every DIYer NeedsTop 10 Power Tools Every DIYer Needs

Time and time again I’ve been asked what my desert island tool would be. But honestly I have a hard time narrowing my answer down to just one tool. Instead I decided to make a list of the Top 10 Power Tools that Every DIYer Needs in their tool arsenal.

Next week the stores will be crowded and your family may want to know what you’d like for the holidays. If you are like me and ask for tools over jewelry, you’ll want to take inventory of your tools and see if there’s that one tool that you are missing. The ones that make the cut on this list are the tools that I use over and over again on projects, home repairs, and maintenance.

In no particular order, here are my Top 10 Power Tools Every DIYer Needs:

(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.)

1. Circular Saw:

A circular saw is one of the most versatile tools in the shop (and on a jobsite.) This one tool can potentially take the place of both a miter saw and a table saw. But, you have to have a steady hand and set up a guide bar (or use a Kreg Rip Cut) to get precision cuts. If you are building a deck, fence, or other outdoor structure, nothing will take the place of this mobile tool.

Porter-Cable 15 Amp Circular Saw

 

2. Table Saw:

The table saw is the king of making rip cuts. You can cut your own custom lumber, shave off rounded edges on boards and cut down large sheets for cabinetry and furniture. The table saw can handle small rips and make multiple cuts at the exact same width (when you lock the fence in place.) One accessory I recommend for your table saw is a Microjig GRR-Ripper to keep your hands and fingers safe. You can see a good example of the uses for a table saw and the GRR-Ripper in this tutorial for building sports gear storage in a small space.



DeWalt FlexVolt 50v Max cordless table saw

 

3. Miter Saw:

Nothing beats the precision of being able to cut a miter and bevel cut, which is a necessity when adding crown moulding to your home.  For that reason I recommend forgoing a standard chop saw and outfit your shop with a compound sliding miter saw. The sliding feature allows you to cut lumber that is wider than the actual blade width. I highly recommend saving up for a quality miter saw. You will get what you pay for on this power tool. For more information, see my video tutorial for using a miter saw.


Makita 10″ Dual Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw

 

4. Drill/Impact Driver Combo:

A drill is the equivalent of your right hand man while working on any project. Go ahead and upgrade to a stronger drill and if you buy one that double as an impact driver, you’ll save room in your toolbox.


Milwaukee Drill and Impact Driver Set

 

5. Bandsaw:

Before I had a jigsaw, I used my bandsaw for many curved cuts (and even ripped some lumber with it.) Although it may seem like an extraneous tool, having a bandsaw can be your friend when you want to make precision profile cuts in any wood. You’ll notice I didn’t include a scroll saw on the list and that’s because I would guess that 90% of the time the bandsaw (or a jig saw) will perform the tasks you think you need a scroll saw for. One of my favorite projects using a bandsaw is making this pallet serving tray.

 

Delta Bandsaw

6. Cordless Finish Nailgun:

Having a cordless nailer is the way to go when you are working on small projects or installing trim. This battery-powered 18 gauge nail gun doesn’t require a compressor. In my book, this is a huge plus for anyone who hates to haul out a big, heavy, and loud compressor. Not to mention dealing with the maintenance on a compressor. One of my favorite projects using a finish nailer are these cute scrap wood trays using leftover moulding.

Porter-Cable 18 ga. Cordless Nailer

 

7. Oscillating Multi-tool:

Where would I be without a multi-tool? In a jamb, that’s for sure. The oscillating tool is a mighty little tool you can bring to the location that needs cutting. Notch out your framing lumber; cut detail areas; sand in tight corners; scrape up tiles; and even cut nails with this tool and a metal blade. The oscillating tool has been my BFF when I need a small hand held option to the bigger tools (like sanding inside a window sill after repairing wood rot.)

Rockwell Sonicrafter

 

8. Power Sander:

Save your energy for more important tasks than sanding. Let the power sander smooth, strip and finish any surface in no time. Honestly, I can’t imagine ever hand sanding again.

DeWalt Palm Sander

 

9. Jigsaw:

The jigsaw can be compared to the bandsaw, but you’ll find a jigsaw a must have when you can’t bring the project to the tool or when your piece is too big. A good jigsaw won’t set you back much, but it will definitely save you time (and as you know, time is money.) One of the handiest uses for a jigsaw is cutting inside sheet goods.

Porter Cable Jigsaw

 

10. Rotary Tool:

A Dremel is one of those tools that you don’t think you need until you start using it. Then you wonder how you got along without one. Cut off metal; sand in tiny areas; drill; etch into a variety of materials and even trim your pet’s nails! This little tool can do so many things if you have the right bit. (My favorite use for a Dremel is creating a notch to remove stripped screws or bolts.)

Dremel Cordless Rotary Tool

 

11. Bonus Tool – Reciprocating Saw:

If you have all the tools above, go ahead and ask for this demo demon! A reciprocating saw makes fast work of removing studs and joists. Plus, if you like working with pallet wood, this tool is one of best ways (among 5 others) of removing pallet wood.

DeWalt Corded Reciprocating Saw

 

Did I miss any power tools that you find a necessity? Any tools that you’ll be adding to your wish list?

DIY Table Saw Stand and Collapsible Out Feed Work Table

Today I want to share with you my new workshop configuration that has a DIY Table Saw Stand and a collapsible out feed (or work) table. I’ve struggled for years to find a workbench that meets my need to spread out while building and assembling projects. And I wanted this table to act as an out feed table for my table saw. I’ve looked at many options, but ultimately I needed something that could collapse and store away quickly in case we needed to park our car in the garage (for ice storms, hurricanes, tornados, or blizzards.)

At first I was impressed with Ron Paulk’s plans for a portable workbench that could be disassembled. But, I didn’t have the time to take on another build project. I wanted the instant gratification of having a work table immediately. Around the same time I purchased an investment house and started looking at folding work stands that could transport back and forth to the job site. That’s when I realized I could have my cake and eat it too. I could use a collapsible work stand both in my garage and at the job site.

Table Saw Stand and Collapsible Out Feed Work Table

Best of all, there was no building required for the out feed table, and minimal building for the table saw stand. If you are looking for a similar set up, stick around and I’ll show you how to make your own table saw stand and out feed table in an hour or less!

DIY Table Saw Stand

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.)

Table Saw Stand and Collapsible Out Feed Work Table

Cut List:

  • 2 shelves – 3/4″ plywood cut to 20″ x 24″
  • 2 leg supports – 2″ x 4″ x 17″
  • 2 shelf supports – 2″ x 2″ x 24″
  • 2 top supports – 2″ x 2″ x 21″
  • 4 legs – 2″ x 4″ x _?*

* The height of your saw stand legs will be determined by your saw and table heights. I recommend doing a little math and check it with a ruler. (Take the height of your out feed table subtract the height of your table saw. Now subtract 3/4″ for your plywood thickness from this measurement. This is the height your table saw stand legs need to be cut. If you want to be precise, you can subtract an additional 1/8″ and use shims under the table saw to get the perfect height.)

Instructions:

Start by drilling two pocket holes into the ends of the 4″ face of your 2″ x 4″ x 17″ leg supports.

Table Saw Stand and Collapsible Out Feed Work Table

Connect two table legs by driving 2½” pocket hole screws into the 17″ leg supports as shown below. Repeat for the other side.

Table Saw Stand and Collapsible Out Feed Work Table

Pre-drill one hole into each end of the 2″ x 2″ x 21″ top supports.

Table Saw Stand and Collapsible Out Feed Work Table

Connect the two leg assemblies with the 2″ x 2″ x 21″ top supports using two 2 ½” wood screws as shown below:

Table Saw Stand and Collapsible Out Feed Work Table

Repeat for the other side. Your table base should look like this:

Table Saw Stand and Collapsible Out Feed Work Table

Trace the legs on each corner of one of the 3/4″ plywood shelves.

Table Saw Stand and Collapsible Out Feed Work Table

Cut out the corner leg shapes you traced.

Table Saw Stand and Collapsible Out Feed Work Table

Place the shelf in between the leg assemblies. (I made the mistake of trying to add the shelf after adding the shelf supports.)

Table Saw Stand and Collapsible Out Feed Work Table

Pre-drill holes at the ends of the 2″ x 2″x 24″ lower shelf supports.

Table Saw Stand and Collapsible Out Feed Work Table

Secure the lower shelf support 1 ½” up from the base of the table saw stand with two 2 ½” wood screws per leg.

Table Saw Stand and Collapsible Out Feed Work Table

Place the bottom shelf on top of the lower shelf supports. Then center the top shelf on top of the base and pre-drill holes around the perimeter. Place one screw at each corner and four in between the corners.

Table Saw Stand and Collapsible Out Feed Work Table

Drive 2″ wood screws into the plywood top.

Table Saw Stand and Collapsible Out Feed Work Table

Set your table saw on your new stand. Use shims to raise the table saw and level if needed.

Table Saw Stand and Collapsible Out Feed Work Table

Slide your table saw stand up to the out feed table and start making some sawdust!

Table Saw Stand and Collapsible Out Feed Work Table

Collapsible Out Feed Table:

As I mentioned earlier, I was looking for a set up that could collapse easily should I need to pull my car into the garage. That’s how I discovered the Centipede collapsible work table. The Centipede is lightweight but strong, especially when you lay a sheet of plywood on top to distribute the weight.

It’s incredibly easy to set up as you can see from my Facebook Live video I took when I set up the Centipede for the first time:

After setting up the Centipede (which took less than a minute), I laid a  4′ x 8′ x 3/8″ PVC sheet on top of the Centipede for a work surface. The choice to go with the PVC sheet was two-fold. 1) I wanted something that was lighter weight than a piece of plywood (to keep things simple when I’m working on my own). 2) And the second reason I chose the PVC sheet over plywood was to have a nice smooth and clean surface for photography. So far the PVC works great. It has a few scratches on it now, but still works well as a back drop.

Table Saw Stand and Collapsible Out Feed Work Table

After using this set up all summer, I only found one drawback. The 3/8″ PVC sheet is stable but has some flex in it, so I can’t necessarily hammer on it without some bounce. But, I also purchased a large sheet of rigid foam insulation to use for cutting into when using a circular or track saw. I may try to put the rigid foam insulation sheet under the PVC sheet and see if that helps. Of course, I’ll have to raise my table saw a little, but it would be worth it to have a more stable surface.

Table Saw Review:

If you have an eagle eye, you may have noticed that there are not power cords coming from that table saw! That’s because, it’s a DeWalt FlexVolt Cordless Table Saw. DeWalt sent the tool to me to review and I honestly didn’t expect to like the saw as much as I do. I have been using the saw for over a year now and I LOVE IT! It’s completely portable so I can bring it with me on job sites. There are no cords, which frees up valuable electrical outlets in my shop.

Table Saw Stand and Collapsible Out Feed Work Table

The saw is definitely quieter than my old table saw. I love that the blade stops very quickly when the red stop button is pushed. (This could potentially reduce the severity of an injury, but not prevent it all together.)

Table Saw Stand and Collapsible Out Feed Work Table

The cuts it makes are very precise and smooth. Although it is battery powered, I haven’t noticed a difference in power between the FlexVolt and my corded table saw. I’ve used it to cut through plywood, pressure treated lumber and masonite. The only difference I have noticed is the blade will spin a little slower when the battery is almost drained. It won’t continue to decrease speed, instead when the saw senses the low battery it won’t allow you to continue making cuts without charging the battery.

Table Saw Stand and Collapsible Out Feed Work Table

You can keep an eye on the charge on the FlexVolt batteries by pressing the button on the charge indicator. I do recommend purchasing two FlexVolt batteries so you can always keep one charged. The length of time this saw will run on one battery is unbelievable. I expected much less out of the battery life, but I cut an entire pantry’s worth of plywood and still had plenty of juice left for another project.

DIY Table Saw Stand and Collapsible Off Feed Table

This little set up is working out perfectly for my small shop. The DIY Table Saw Stand has storage underneath for extra blades, batteries and for the GRR-RIPPER 3D Push blocks (that I highly recommend for use with any table saw. They have changed the way I work with my table saw for the better.)

Let me know if you have any questions in the comment field. I’m happy to answer them.

Table Saw Stand and Collapsible Out Feed Work Table

Disclosure: The Dewalt FlexVolt Table Saw was sent to me for product review. I was not told what to write or paid for my review. 

Installing Cabinet Handles the Easy Way | Pretty Handy Girl

After installing my fair share of cabinet knobs and handles over the years, I’ve made my own templates out of cardboard or scrap wood. But, after trying this new gadget, I can honestly say this is how you too can Install Cabinet Handles the Easy Way.

I was given the Kreg Cabinet Hardware Jig (affiliate link) to test last year, but I never opened it until now. I’m so glad I finally tried this puppy out. Just so you know, Kreg may have given me the jig, but I was not paid to write about it. I’m sharing this with you because I really liked this tool.

When you use this jig, not only will you install cabinet knobs and pulls easily, but each handle will be perfectly lined up with the others guaranteed!

2 Ways to Fix a Knob Screw that's Too Long | Pretty Handy Girl

If you have knobless cabinets in your home, now is the time to update them immediately. Grab a few things and meet me back here in a minute.

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.)

Assembling the Kreg Cabinet Hardware Jig:

Remove the pieces from the packaging.

Add the non-slip pads to the edge guide. (Locate the indented circles and place pads here.)

Feed the hex head bolts into the edge guide and insert into slots on the jig.

Thread the knobs onto the front side of the Kreg Cabinet Hardware Jig.

Insert the drill guides into the slots on either side of the center hole window as shown below. Line up the drill guides with your handle posts. If you only have one post knobs to install, insert it in the center hole.

Flip the jig over and secure the drill guides with the provided nuts.

Now you’re ready to Install Cabinet Hardware the Easy Way.

Instructions:

Line up the drill guides with your handle posts making sure the numbers match on both sides. (Or insert the drill guide in the center hole for single post knobs.)

Hold your handle up to the location you wish to install it. Secure a strip of painter’s tape to the cabinet door in the same location.

Mark the center of the handle on painter’s tape on your cabinet drawer (or door.)

Line up your jig over the center line.

Set the edge guide to the desired depth from the top of the drawer. Clamp the jig in place. Feed a 3/16″ drill bit into your drill and drill through the two drill guides.

If your pulls are thicker than 3/16″, measure the depth of the pull posts and transfer that measurement onto a larger bit. Mark that depth with a painter’s tape “flag”.

Drill to the painter’s tape flag for an exact depth.

This jig works the same for cabinet doors with a single knob. The difference being you will line up the edge guide on the side of the cabinet door and only one hole is drilled.

After your hole is drilled, remove the painter’s tape from your cabinet. You should have a nice clean hole with no splinters.

Secure your knob or pull to the door and admire your handy work.

If you run into a situation where the screw is too long, I have two ways to deal with that long screw.

Disclosure: This is a product review. I was given a complimentary Kreg Hardware Jig to try. I was not paid to mention Kreg or told what to say. I will always let you know if you are reading a sponsored post or product review.

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.

Blog1-001

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!

First

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

WORX 56v MaxLithium Hedge Trimmer Review | Pretty Handy Girl

We have a very wooded and heavily landscaped lot with lots of mature bushes. Some of the bushes were starting to achieve monster proportions. Do you see the resemblance? Today we are going to be talking about this awesome hedge trimmer. Check out this WORX Hedge Trimmer review.

WORX 56v Hedge Trimmer Review | Pretty Handy Girl

This is why I needed a bad boy hedge trimmer on my side. WORX sent me the 56V MaxLithium Cordless 24″ Hedge Trimmer  to try out. It turned out to be the perfect tool for our yard. Previously I tried the 20V MaxLithium Cordless 20″ Hedge Trimmer, but it didn’t have the muscle I needed to power through our landscaping. The 56V WORX hedge trimmer definitely had the power to cut easily through all our shrubs and bushes. But, the extra power is the result of a large battery which does weigh more than its 20V sibling. However, I’d much prefer a little extra weight because the trimmer can cut through bushes and shrubs much faster (saving on arm fatigue in the long run.)

WORX 56v Hedge Trimmer Review | Pretty Handy Girl

The WORX 56V MaxLithium Cordless 24″ Hedge Trimmer requires the assembly of the handle and shield when you first remove it from the box. You will need a philips head screwdriver.

WORX 56v Hedge Trimmer Review | Pretty Handy Girl

The battery pack should not be in the trimmer during assembly. Simply slide the shield into place (just above the blades) and secure it with the screws shipped with the tool.

WORX 56v Hedge Trimmer Review | Pretty Handy Girl

The handle requires some outward force to snap over the trimmer.

WORX 56v Hedge Trimmer Review | Pretty Handy Girl

The handle is secured with one bolt on one side.

WORX 56v Hedge Trimmer Review | Pretty Handy Girl

Snap the battery pack in place and you’re ready to tame that jungle you call your yard.

WORX 56v Hedge Trimmer Review | Pretty Handy Girl

Trimming the pampas grass used to be a tedious job using manual hedge shears and I inevitably lost the battle with lots of scratches. Read more

DIY Chalkboard Memo Board (4th grade project) | Pretty Handy Girl

Before the end of the school year a REALLY GOOD friend of mine asked if I would give a talk in her daughter’s class about what I do for a living. I hemmed and hawed because I rarely have the free time. But, the main reason I was hesitant was because I didn’t know how to talk to 4th graders about what I do. Saying I’m a blogger is something that is hard for me to vocalize. “I write a blog” sounds simple and easy. But, in actuality, I do so many other things to make this blog a reality. Just a few of my job descriptions are: writer, photographer, builder, crafter, teacher, photo editor, business woman, manager, social media coordinator, graphic designer, web designer and all around handy girl! How could I explain all of that to the students?

Suddenly, an idea hit me! I would waltz into that classroom and use my platform to break down the stereotypes about women and handy people within 30 minutes (or less!) Then I’d empower the 4th grade students by letting them build their own chalkboard memo board AND use a power tool! Lofty goals, but I felt sure I could do it. Little did I know that the students wouldn’t be the only one empowered.

The quiz:

I started out by talking to the kids about what a handy person is. They shared terms that fit the definition of a handy person: fixes things, builder, carpenter, plumber, woodworker, and home improvement specialist. Then I showed them a slide presentation and gave the kids a quiz asking them to tell me which of these people are handy:

DIY Chalkboard Memo Board (4th grade project) | Pretty Handy Girl

I showed them one picture at a time and as expected, they got all of the answers wrong.

The answers: Read more

DIY Marble Toss Game | Pretty Handy Girl

The summer is dragging on and the kids don’t have any summer camps for the next few weeks. That means: 1) I need to find a way to keep the kids entertained. 2) I need to keep them from pushing me over the brink of insanity. 3) I need to keep them from pushing each other off a cliff.

engraved-marble-toss

I came up with a fun marble toss game that will keep them busy. It was an easy game to make and I used some of the scrap wood laying around my workshop. Feel free to substitute materials and make modifications.

I enjoyed using the Dremel Fortiflex to carve the intricate letters and numbers. I have to admit I’m enjoying working as a brand ambassador for Dremel and testing their tools.

Let’s get your marble game face on!

(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.)

Materials:

Optional: White pin stripes

Cut list:

  • 1 – 1/4″ x 10.5″ x 24.5″ plywood (face)
  • 1 – 1/2″ x 23″ x 9.25″ plywood (for side supports)
  • 2 – 1×3″ cut to 8.5″ (for base supports)
  • 1 – 2×4″ cut to 8.5″ (for upper support)

Tools Used:

Instructions:

Begin by drawing a horizontal line across the 1/2″ plywood.

mark-triangle-half

The angle will be approximately 22˚degrees.

22-degrees

Use the Dremel Ultra-Saw (jig saw or circular saw) to cut your plywood board in half diagonally.

cut-on-line-ultra-saw

You should have two identical triangles for the side supports. Read more

How to Trim Closet Doors with Dremel UltraSaw | Pretty Handy Girl

I have a friend named Holly. She and I live in the same neighborhood and we help each other out with DIY projects. Last week she asked me to help her come up with a solution to hide her dirty laundry.

How to Trim Closet Doors with Dremel UltraSaw | Pretty Handy Girl

Holly and I were trying to figure out how to replace her sad laundry room door(s). The right side door had broken off and was unusable. We floated several ideas, originally thinking about creating inexpensive sliding barn doors. But, we scaled back that idea after realizing that inexpensive pipe hardware (spanning over 8 feet) was still too expensive for the budget. We began discussing buying cheap bi-fold doors and dressing them up. However, even new bi-folds aren’t super cheap. I mentioned she “might” have luck going to the Habitat ReStore to find the exact size doors. We both knew that was a slim chance. Then an idea hit me like a bi-fold door falling off its hinges! Among the multitude of things I have stored in my attic, were two sets of closet doors! One that used to be on my son’s reading nook closet. And the second set used to be on the pantry.

Would it be fitting that the only before pictures I have of the pantry doors are these gems?

How to Trim Closet Doors with Dremel UltraSaw | Pretty Handy Girl
The Streaker

How to Trim Closet Doors with Dremel UltraSaw | Pretty Handy Girl
The Goofball

You get the picture. They are ordinary bi-fold doors. After the doors were removed from our pantry I liked how open it was. Although sometimes I wonder if I am just too lazy to open and shut the doors every time I want food.

How to Trim Closet Doors with Dremel UltraSaw | Pretty Handy Girl

Regardless, I liked the open concept, but not necessarily our food being constantly ON DISPLAY. I have plans to add built-in cabinets and shelving to the pantry, similar to what my friends The DIY Village created, but for now we just have it open.

I ran home to dig through the attic and find the two sets of doors that might work for Holly. I held my breath (partly because the attic was stifling hot) as I measured the doors. My son’s closet doors were…too narrow. Whomp wah. The pantry doors were… a perfect width!!! But, they were 2″ too tall. No worries, I knew I could trim them down.

Here’s how to remove (and install) closet doors and cut them down to size using a Dremel Ultra-Saw:

Read more