Building and Installing Shelves 0

Step One: What You Need

To make a shelf, you're going to need a stud finder, pencil, metal shelving brackets and finally a piece of wood, plywood or fiberboard and metal shelving standards all sized to the appropriate length. If you are planning on painting or staining your shelves, choose a standard color that blends in well. You will also want to paint or stain your standards to match your shelving.

Step Two: Placing the Shelves

Using a stud finder, locate the wall studs to which you will attach your shelves. Mark the spots with a pencil. If you have to attach the shelves between studs, use appropriate anchors and do not exceed the manufacturer's recommended load limits. Determine the width and length of the shelves you need. The shelves should overhang the brackets by four inches. Have shelves to the chosen length. Have strips of 1 by 2 inch clear pine or hardwood cut. For shelves that will span more than 36 inches, use three strips or standards. 

Step Three: Installing the Standards

Position the metal standards in the middle of the 1 by 2 inch strips and attach them using the screws provided with or recommended by the manufacturer.  Attach the strips with standards to the wall studs with 3-inch wallboard screws. Make sure that the openings in the standards that hold the arm brackets match up on either side of the strips, otherwise the shelves will not hang level. Use a carpenter's level to make sure that the standards are plumb, ensuring the arm brackets will be level.

Step Four: Hanging the Shelves

Attach the arm brackets and place the shelves on top.

  • Barbara Kavovit

Hanging a picture/mirror 0

Step One: What You Need

 To hang a mirror or frame, you'll need a tape measure, pencil, adhesive tape, picture hook, nail, hammer and level.

 If you're not sure where you want to put the frame, here's a tip: Trace the frame onto a piece of construction paper first.  Put the paper on the wall and play with placement until you find the right spot. [Address hanging a group of pictures.]

 Step Two: Center the Object

 Decide where you want to put your picture or mirror. One basic guideline: Center the picture  about 66 to 68 inches above the floor or 12 to 16 inches above a piece of furniture. No matter what your ceiling height, you want pictures to be at eye level.  Using your tape measure find the overall dime mention of the area on which you will be hanging the picture then divide it in half that is your center point.  Than from the floor up through your measure and mark 68” then measure from the wire or bracket on the back of the picture to the top of the picture frame.  Next take that measurement and apply it under the 68”center mark.  That is where you are going to put your hanging hardware.

Secure the picture hook by placing a small piece of adhesive tape on the wall below the pencil mark. This will help prevent the drywall or plaster from cracking. Now place the nail through the picture hook and hammer it into the wall. The nail should be at a 45-degree angle to the wall.

Step Three: Completion

 Hang a picture by the wire on the back of the frame. Make any necessary adjustments and use a level if you need to.

  • Barbara Kavovit

Light Fixture 0

Supplies:  new light fixture, wire nuts, electrical tape, rubber coated cloth work gloves

Tools:  wire striper, screwdriver and 6” needle nose pliers

Specifics of task:  hanging fixtures are fastened to the electrical box in two ways. 

1.  Using a threaded hollow rod

2.  Screwing the fixture directly to the box.


The install:

1. Put on your insolated cloth gloves. 

2.  Turn off the electricity at the breaker NOTE:  make sure it is off by leaving the light on when you go to switch the breaker off then before handling the wires test for current using a test light commonly referred to as a pig tail.  Touch the wires of the pigtail to the striped wire ends in the electrical box no light no power your ready to go. 

3.  Unscrew old fixture. 

4. Remove wire nuts from wire connections. 

5.  Test for current with pigtail by touching wires from the pig tail to the wires coming out of the box, if the light does not go on you are ready to proceed make sure you have your insolated glove on. 

6.  Take the wire ends from the new fixture and se to it that they are striped if they are not re move approximately ½” of rubber from the end of the wire to expose the copper core

7.  Take the black wire from the box and the black wire from the fixture and line them up next to each other   using your 6” needle nose pliers lightly twist the copper ends together than turn a wire nut clockwise over the wire ends

8.  Repeat the same with the white wires and green (ground) if it is grounded

9.line the screw holes of the fixture up with the holes on the box and put screws in by hand putting a few turns on each screw.  Then finish the job with a screwdriver.  Wow that was easy! 

 Testing your work: make sure you have a working light bulb in the fixture than turn the breaker and the light switch on if the light goes on you are done.  If the light does not go on, turn off the power an go back into the fixture and make better connections at your wire ends.

  • Barbara Kavovit

Installing a Peephole 0

Step One: What You Need

You'll need a drill, tape measure, slotted screwdriver [Eric: what is a slotted screwdriver – another word for flat?  Or something else?], safety glasses, a dust mask and, of course, a peephole.  These will be available from your local locksmith and should cost around $25.

Step Two: Making a Hole

Before you begin drilling, measure a height that is comfortable for you and the rest of your family to use, and mark the point on the door where you would like the peephole to go.  If your door has the same thickness throughout, you may put the peephole either in the center or more on the side.  If however, you have a panelized door, or one where the outside frame is thicker than the center panel, the peephole must go on the side.

Because you’re working at eye level, make sure to put on safety glasses and a dust mask before starting. Use a small drill bit to make a pilot hole completely through the door at the mark you made in order to confirm placement. This hole can be as small as you want it to be and is done for the purpose of positioning as well as creating a track for you to drill a larger hole for the peephole to go into.  Switch to a drill bit of the diameter indicated in the peephole instructions, and drill approximately halfway through the door. Move to the other side of the door and complete the hole. Drilling a hole from each side reduces the chance of splintering or deforming your door when the drill bit exits.

Step Three: A Clear View

 Make sure that the correct side is facing out, or else your visitors will all appear to be very small and very far away!  Then position the two sections of the peephole in the door and tighten. Use your screwdriver in the slots of the interior bezel  to finish tightening the peephole. 

Congratulations, now you won't ever have to answer your door again without knowing who is on the other side.



  • Barbara Kavovit

Replacing a Showerhead 0

Step One: What You Need

For this installation, you'll need 8-inch slip joint pliers, Teflon sealant tape, a cloth rag and, of course a new showerhead.  Showerheads vary and you have to decide what you want depending on look, water flow and other features.  You should be able to talk to someone at your local hardware store about the different options and which one will work best for you.

Step Two: Removing the Old Showerhead

Using the pliers, hold the shower pipe stem and twist counterclockwise to take off the old showerhead.  Then, wrap the Teflon sealant tape two or three times around the threads at the end of the pipe stem.

Step Three: Installing the New Showerhead

Using a cloth in between the pliers and the new showerhead, screw the new showerhead on clockwise until tight.  Make sure that you have screwed it on straight and that it is not cross threaded.  Stand back, turn on the water and test for leaks.   If there are leaks, first try screwing it another quarter turn.  Try this again if it doesn’t work.  If after the second quarter-turn there are still leaks, you have to take the showerhead off, apply a few extra layers of Teflon tape and then reattach it.  Now you've earned that hot, steamy shower -- you installed it yourself. 

For more fix-it advice, read my book “Room for Improvement.” 

  • Barbara Kavovit

Installing a Surface Mounted Lock 0

Step One: What You Need

 You'll need a surface-mounted lock, a pencil, a utility knife, and a power drill with screwdriver bits. You can buy the lock of your choice at your local home improvement center or hardware store.

 Step Two: Get It Situated

 Position the lock on the door at the height you want and mark the holes with a pencil. Place the receiver of the chain or bolt on the doorframe trim and lightly trace the outer edges in pencil. Use your utility knife to cut away the door trim [which is door trim and which is doorjamb? (The trim dresses the door jamb)] until you reach the doorjamb. Replace the lock piece and mark the screw hole in pencil.

 Step Three: Lock It In Place

 Use your drill and a bit that is slightly smaller than the mounting screw. Drill shallow holes at all the pencil marks. These are your pilot holes for the screws. Align the lock with the pilot holes and use your screwdriver to place and tighten all the screws (never overtighten, or you will strip screws.

 You've added a level of safety to your home. And you did it yourself!  For more fix-it advice, read my book “Room for Improvement.”  

  • Barbara Kavovit