Friday, December 21, 2012, 2:30 PM
For part-time skiers, there is a long list of things that should not be on the short list of your slope-side plans. Be it reaching Bode Miller status by flying down a slalom run at 75 miles per hour, or dropping out of a helicopter to bomb an avalanche chute, certain extreme aspirations are probably better off left to people who get paid to do them. But while you may not find yourself vying for the spot on the next Winter Olympic ski team, it is still a great idea to spend time refining your approach and seeking the improvement that will allow you to maximize your time on the mountain. Not only does upping your game allow you to have more fun, it also allows you to stay safe and pass on your honed style to the most important members of the trip: the kids.
- Pre-Slope Fitness: Like linemen make their money in the gym and MLB sluggers make their money in the batting cage, a big part of being a good skier has to do with the steps you take before you set foot on the slopes. For all of you that don’t call K2 base-camp home, your muscles are going to tire much quicker on the mountain than you’re generally used to. Add to that the fact that skiing sets off a bunch of muscle groups that you don’t hit at the gym or while working around the house, and you have a perfect blend of elements set to make you sore. The best way to fight this problem is a ski specific workout routine leading up to your first trip. Besides being a great excuse to start getting back into shape, this will make sure you spend your trip enjoying the snow, not holed up like the tin man on the cabin couch.
- Wax-On/Wax-Off: For most people, skis are skis, and that’s all there is to it. The skis go from the garage to the plane to the car to the slopes with nothing but a quick removal of dust and cobwebs in between. And while this may be fine if all you want is for your skis to carry you down the slopes in one piece, leaving a fresh wax job out of the equation will greatly slow you down and keep you from maximizing your performance. Any ski shop will be able to apply a coat for a fee if you’re really pressed on time, but applying the wax yourself should be an absolute breeze and will save you a good chunk of change as well. With only an iron, a plastic scraper, and a fresh bar of wax, this job should take you no more than twenty minutes to complete, and this video will show you exactly how to do it.
- Learning from the Pros: Sure it may not be your goal to be as good as the pros, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t learn from one. That old muscle memory tends to get a little rusty after nine months away from the snow, and even for the most experienced skiers, a few group or private lessons will help you re-discover your groove and get comfortable on all types of terrain as quickly as possible. A small error in technique that might take you five days to notice on your own will take a good instructor just five minutes to fix, and being a part of ski school means you get to skip all of those long weekend lift lines. A serious win-win.
TIP: Use WD-40® Multi-Use Product to prevent rust from forming on ski bindings after you’re done with them and before they go back into storage for next year.
Friday, December 14, 2012, 2:30 PM
New Years is just around the corner and the time for fresh resolutions is almost here. But in order to really make good-faith promises about what personal goals you’re going to accomplish over the next year, you’ll need to start by knocking out any unfinished business around the house. The bad news is the holiday season can be busy with a task list of its own that can get pretty long. The good news is a bit of extra time off work means you can tackle those holiday jobs with enough extra room to tie up any loose ends from 2012’s honey-do list. From replacing missing floor tiles to fixing dents in the drywall, there’s no better time than now to clock some DIY hours and kick start the new year with a clean project slate.
- A Time for Tile: Ceramic tile is just about as durable as any low maintenance surface can get, and for that reason, it’s a popular choice when it comes to countertops and floors in modern homes. The only problem is, the fact that it’s so durable means it’s often left out when making a list of things around the house that need attention, and tiles that have been chipped or cracked can go years without being properly fixed. The process of fixing a tile shouldn’t take too long and is definitely something you can handle on your own. Start by taking a carbide-tipped scoring tool and digging out the grout around the broken piece. After using a ¼ inch bit to drill a hole through each segment of the broken piece to loosen it, use a hammer and chisel to pop out each broken piece and place it to the side. From here, all that’s really left to do is clear the space of any ceramic debris and set the new tile. You can find a matching tile at your local home improvement store or a specialty flooring store. If you cannot find an exact match, a slightly different texture or shade of color will not be noticeable in your overall floor or countertop once the job is complete. By combing a bed of thinset mortar in the tile-bed and applying some mortar directly to the back of the tile, you should have a pretty good adhesive platform. Set the tile, finish the edges with some grout, and you’ve just completed the job.
Drywall Doctor: No matter how careful you are with your tools and how many times you tell the kids not to play indoors, inevitably someone is going to put a hole in the drywall in your house and when they do it’s going to cause an immediate eyesore. Luckily, for as bad as this can look, it has a pretty darn simple and time efficient fix. Start by scoring the drywall surrounding the dent and peeling away the drywall paper along with any loose debris. Next, after a bit of light sanding, apply a waterproof primer to seal the edges of the damaged area. Once the primer has dried, fill the dent with drywall compound and use a putty knife to smooth the filling and to feather the edges so that it blends in with the rest of the wall. Wait for the compound to dry, give it a light sanding, apply another layer, and repeat this one more time. Then a final step of priming and painting should leave you with nothing to do but admire your flawless wall.
- Basement Makeover: You’ve been putting it off the entire year and now the end of the year is approaching. Whatever system you used last time you organized the basement has been forgotten, and what was once careful rows of boxes and bins looks like a garage sale that got hit with a stick of dynamite. But if you don’t get to it now chances are you won’t get to it next year either, meaning that biting the bullet for a few days work will allow you to get rid of the ghost that would otherwise haunt your honey-do list for years to come. The most important step, and the one that most people skip, is taking inventory of all the belongings you have down there. Blindly shoving things into boxes will get the job done quickly, but will make your life miserable when you need to find something later on. Take stock of what you have, separate into categories, and mark what key items are going into what boxes. Arranging the boxes in a space-efficient arrangement should be a cinch once it’s all packed away, and any fragile or loose items that don’t go well in boxes might even give you a good excuse to build a few brand new shelves. Cleaning out the basement is also a good opportunity to sort through the items you might not need anymore and either toss or donate them to your local Goodwill or Salvation Army store.
TIP: WD-40® Multi-Use Product is a great way to keep that drywall tape and “mud” from sticking to your tools.
Friday, December 7, 2012, 2:30 PM
There are certain rules when it comes to being a real man during the holiday season. Some are fairly new, like making sure you know how to string LED lights along the roof and how to set up the iPod dock to accompany your neighborhood caroling. There are other holiday rules, however, that have proved their worth by standing strong against the ages, and the most important of these is your ability to chop down and trim your own holiday tree. Just like your great grandfather proved decades ago, there are few things more liberating than heading out into the woods with nothing but the boots on your feet and a sharpened saw on your shoulder. Following these simple steps, you can pass up the tree lot with confidence this year, and head out to bag that holiday centerpiece that will make the entire family proud.
- Getting the Green Light: The first hurdle that needs to be jumped in order to find your gorgeous pine is researching where you’re allowed to cut. If you happen to have firs and pines on your own property then you are one of the lucky few that can skip this step, but for the rest of us it comes down to either acquiring a permit to cut from a national forest or going to a specialized tree farm. Getting a permit can be a tricky task and the drive to and from national parks can be a long haul. Holiday tree farms are everywhere, though, and by going to one of these you will still get the feel for chopping down your own tree in the forest while having people on hand who can help you out with the bagging and transport. Not to mention the warm indoor lobby and hot chocolate can help turn the outing into something the whole family will enjoy.
- Finding the Prize: Once at the location, you’ll need to do some searching to find a tree that everybody can agree on. Make sure to take the measurements of the desired tree-space before leaving the house so you know exactly what you have to work with. Also remember that trees always look much smaller on the farm and will seem to explode in size once you bring them indoors. The most common mistake people make is bringing home a tree that doesn’t fit and having to go back to fetch a more reasonable size. Yes, we know this is your one day to be Paul Bunyan and Paul Bunyan only cuts down the biggest trees, but unless you have thirty foot ceilings and a semi-truck or trailer to tow, you might be better off bagging a little guy and letting your manly blade-work do the talking.
- Timber: It’s one of the most satisfying words in the English language, and sadly one that not everybody gets to say in their lifetime. Shouting “timber” means the hard work is done and the tree is coming down. But before your moment of glory there are a few key steps you need to take to ensure success. Having someone else hold the tree while you saw is a must for safety reasons. With both hands on the blade it’s hard to control the direction of the tree’s fall and you could end up learning one of gravity’s tough lessons if you end up in the wrong place at the final moment. The other key is to make sure you have someone with a flashlight spotting the cut. Tree farms and forests can be dark and knots on the tree can cause blades to slip and break. By having someone spot from a safe distance with a flashlight, you’ll avoid injury and can also get the younger kids involved.
- The Finishing Touches: Once the tree has been tied to the roof and made its trip back to the house, it’s time to let the fun begin. Make sure that you place the tree in a sturdy stand and ensure that it is properly watered. If you plan in advance, you can have tree lights and ornaments all set to go once you get back, and what was a tough day of work out in the cold now becomes a warm family celebration at home. Just don’t forget to thaw the steaks and put hot cider on the stove.
TIP: Use WD-40® Multi-Use Product after a day of tree hunting to remove any sap from the saw blade and handles.
Tuesday, December 4, 2012, 3:00 PM
Normal wear and tear, along with a change in temperature and humidity, can cause window seals to crack and shrink. Check your windows inside and out for leaks and drafts. It’s also a good time to check that doors are sealed and operating smoothly. You can use WD-40 Multi-Use Product to keep your sliding doors and windows squeak-free and gliding with ease, especially if you’re going to have guests coming in and out of the house frequently this Holiday season.
Friday, November 30, 2012, 2:30 PM
We all like our fingers. We all like our toes. We all like staying healthy and free of pain. But the world can be a dangerous place, and when working with high-powered equipment and spinning blades, there’s an awful lot of scenarios that can put us in harm's way. This doesn’t mean it’s time to pack in the tools and trade the circular saw for a knitting kit and rocking chair, but it does mean that we should remind ourselves how high the stakes are when we’re in the workshop. We owe it to both ourselves and our family to take every possible precaution to prevent injury, and this checklist here will help you identify a few key ways that ensure that even during the most serious of projects, you will be keeping yourself safe.
- Be a Visionary: Not only is vision one of the most relied upon senses for getting us through life, but it is also one of the most commonly damaged in workplace accidents. Have you ever scratched your cornea or had dust in a contact lens? Your eyes are your portal to the world, but they are as fragile as they are valuable, and it doesn’t take much to disrupt the way they function. With scraps of metal and wood flying through the air, it is a fool’s game to leave your eyes exposed, and any man worth his salt knows that safety glasses are a must-wear every time you get to work. After all, four dollars is a small price to pay for your sense of sight.
- Lighting the Way: A large portion of workshop mishaps stem from a problem that has an incredibly simple fix: improper lighting. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to point out that using sharp tools in a dark room is inevitably going to lead to the wrong thing being cut. Even if you escape the blade, power tools running into unintended targets can cause dangerous bursts of shrapnel and falling objects. Even the inability to properly see a piece of wood can lead to cutting through twists and loose knots that wreck havoc on saws. Do yourself a favor. Head to your local hardware store and buy some proper lights. It’s much better to spend more than you think you need on safety than to learn the hard way that you didn’t spend enough.
- Play the Inspector: A new job calls for a power-tool that you haven’t used in a while. You fish out the tool, plug it into the grounded outlet, fire it up, and get to work. Is there anything wrong with this sequence of events? The short answer is yes, and the explanation is this: do not ever use a tool without properly inspecting it first. Is the blade loose? Is the safety guard in place? Are there any cracks in the tool’s housing? Is the power cord in good shape? Any small issue is amplified when the tool starts spinning at high speed, and halfway through a cut is not the time to notice a blade is coming off. Taking a moment to inspect each tool takes very little time and will go a long way in keeping you safe.
- First Responder: While we should all vouch to do everything in our power to make our respective work places safe, there is no way to promise an accident will never occur. And heaven forbid if something does ever go wrong, you want to make sure you have everything you need to respond. A first aid kit in the workshop is a must for this very reason. Acquaint yourself with what’s in the kit, how to correctly use the supplies, and how to best treat lacerations and chemical spills. Educating yourself beforehand will allow you to remain calm should something go wrong, and to act effectively in giving the injured person the first-aid that may just save their life.
TIP: Use WD-40® Multi-Use Product to remove gunk from cords to keep them in long-lasting shape. Remember to unplug first!
Friday, November 23, 2012, 2:30 PM
Late fall through the Christmas holiday offers some of the best fishing for bass, crappie and hybrids in some parts of the country. Think you have what it takes to hook a trophy at your local lake? While the thrill of reeling in a big one can be tough to beat, there’re a lot of things that must go right between now and the moment of truth if you want to claim those bragging rights for snagging the biggest fish. For some of us, it’s all second nature—attaching the bait, tying the knot, casting out—and for others, the concept of fishing may as well be written in Chinese. But whether you’re a seasoned expert, an occasional fisher, or someone who’s never even been to a river or lake, this guide is here to give you some key tips for nabbing a fish and to ensure that after your next trip out you’ll be headed home with the catch of the day.
- The Lay of the Land: Much like staking your position in the woods during a hunt, where you choose to cast your line in a river or lake is crucial to your success in locating your prey. The shoreline speaks volumes about nearby terrain underwater, and long uninterrupted weed-lines mean a static lay of land for the fish—bad news for an angler. Instead you want to seek out irregularities in the shoreline. Finger-like projections and cuts in the terrain are dynamic and attract larger numbers of fish. Bass especially are naturally attracted to the changes in depth that generally accompany irregularities along the shore. Find an interesting chunk of shoreline and your chances of locating that prize fish will suddenly get warmer.
- Early Angler Gets the Fish: Though the idea of waking up early on one of your days off might seem less than ideal, it’s a small sacrifice worth making if you’re serious about catching fish. Using topwater baits such as spinner baits in the early morning hours will work wonders in attracting Bass feeding in the shallows. At this time, baitfish is overly active on the surface and the Bass use low light to ambush their prey for a big breakfast. When the water begins to heat up during the course of the day, the fish often retreat to deeper waters making them harder to pinpoint and snag, meaning the later you snooze on your fishing day, the more likely losing becomes.
- The Supporting Cast: If you don’t know how to cast, your day of fishing glory might quickly turn into a day of frustration. Take some time in the week preceding the main event and practice casting in your backyard to work on your distance and accuracy. There are a few different types of casts to choose from—overhand, sidearm, or underhand—and mastering all three will allow you to adapt to any situation. This video covers the basics on the overhand cast with a bait-casting reel. Add this refined motion to your arsenal and you’ll be well on your way to reeling ‘em in.
- Plan in Advance: If you’re going to waste time formulating a plan the morning of the event, you might as well sleep in and let the real men get the job done. Waking up at the crack of dawn is only effective with a game plan already in place, so visit the watering hole the afternoon before you head out and create a careful plan of attack for the following day. This will take the stress off as it will give you an idea of what to expect and will allow you to spend less time fumbling around meaning more time out there casting bait.
TIP: After fishing, apply some WD-40® Multi-Use Product to those precious fishing lures and hooks to keep them free from rust and corrosion.
Friday, November 16, 2012, 2:25 PM
When the sun sets on the sunnier days of fall and the cold air of early winter begins to creep in, it’s no secret that you need to make some changes to prepare yourself for the weather. From heavier jackets to snow boots, people rearrange their personal lives to accommodate the shifting climate, but far too many people overlook the fact that their house is in need of preparation as well. Cold weather can cause a wide range of issues around the house if not properly protected against, and fixing these problems is not only tough in winter weather but can also take a major chunk of change to take care of. Instead of responding only when these problems have already occured, follow this check-list and do some work this fall to ensure your beloved home is ready to stand strong against the elements.
- Protect the Pipes: One of the most important steps to readying the house for winter weather is to guard against freezing pipe damage. Begin by removing all hoses attached to outside faucets and turning off the sillcock in order to stop the flow of water and keep freezing patterns from entering the house. Another trick is to identify any potential problem pipes (namely any pipes that run through unheated areas) and to cover the pipes in foam insulation wrap. This is especially important if the pipe has ever frozen in the past as this step will save you the hassle and cost of fixing the damage from a burst pipe.
- Keep the Cold Outdoors: Less disastrous than a burst pipe but potentially a bigger expense, windows that are improperly insulated can send your electric bill through the roof as your heater fights an uphill battle to keep you and your family warm. There are a ton of cheap, easy solutions that are worth their weight in gold if taken care of in advance. Caulking your windows is the most obvious fix if there are breaks in the seal that are letting cold air in and warm air escape. This shouldn’t be more than a day’s worth of work and will last you far longer than just the season. Window insulation film is another option, which essentially involves heating a film that sticks to your windows and increases the level of insulation. Choose one or both and get to work.
- Warmer Waters: With all the attention being paid to the temperatures inside of the house, usually little thought is given to the temperatures inside the garage, or more specifically, the temperatures of a certain device inside of the garage: the water heater. Due to the fact that it’s constantly fighting off freezing weather, the water heater is often the least efficient device in any winter household. And while it doesn’t make sense to do a full uninstall and move it somewhere else, it is no-brainer to take steps to help increase its efficiency, something easily done with the installation of a thermal insulating blanket. This simple installation will give you big savings over the next three months and allow you to take hot showers without feeling like your draining your wallet.
- Cracked Paths: Outside of the home, it is essential to check the driveway and all walkways for any signs of cracks. While the cracks may not look that big right now, melted snow that leaks into them and freezes can cause the gaps to grow even wider creating a horror scene come spring. You can pick up a cement or asphalt kit at your local hardware store for pretty cheap and patch up these cracks before winter hits. It may take a little elbow grease right now but trust us, it’s way less work than replacing the whole driveway once the cracks get too big for you to fix.
- Seal the Ducts: A home with central heating can lose up to 60% of its heated air before it reaches the vents if the air ducts are not well-insulated. In order to get your money’s worth on heating your home, head up to the attic, search the basement and check crawlspaces for areas with pinched pipes and gaps that are masked by metal-backed tape. By sealing off these areas, you won’t need to run the heat as frequently and can keep your home heated to your liking.
TIP: Use WD-40® Multi-Use Product to help dissolve old butyl caulk.
Tuesday, November 13, 2012, 5:00 AM
We're talking about the Garage, the official "man cave" of most men. It’s almost time to store your tools and equipment for the winter, so make sure you have room in the garage to do so. When you’re clearing out space, empty unused fuel from gas-powered equipment so sediment doesn’t build up and clog the fuel lines, and be sure to store things like gas tanks out of children’s reach. You should also give everything from boats to vehicle locks to metal tools a spray of WD-40 Multi-Use Product to prevent them from rusting and freezing when the weather gets damp and cold.
Friday, November 9, 2012, 2:30 PM
Can you really ever have too much of a good thing? When it comes to Thanksgiving, the answer is a definite yes. Arguably the most relaxing holiday of them all, some people have so much downtime on Thanksgiving that they have trouble even making it to the dinner table for the main event, and can barely stay awake long enough to see what’s for dessert. Rather than letting this holiday turn you lethargic, take advantage of this free time and increase your energy levels throughout the day by doing something fun. There are tons of great activities that will help keep you awake and enjoying your day off, meaning that giant supper will feel more like an earned reward than an obstacle in between you and sleep. Simply read these tips and prepare to experience Thanksgiving like never before.
- Making Your Own Parade: Sure, the Thanksgiving Day parade is nice to watch. There are dancers and floaty things and people lip-syncing some overplayed pop-songs. But if you have kids, you have the opportunity for a far more entertaining parade than anything you can catch on the tube: a kids Turkey Day parade. While it may be a bit more work, the labor is well worth it as it’s all part of the fun. Start with the kids’ wagon, some cardboard and colored paper, anything useful you can find, and create your own float in the front yard. The kids can dress up in costumes, parade their creation down the street, and you’ll all be left with a morning far more memorable than any spent sitting around and watching TV.
- Lighting It Up: The day after Thanksgiving is the day the Christmas season officially begins, and anyone who doesn’t have holiday lights up during Christmas time can reasonably be considered the neighborhood Scrooge. Even if you plan on putting the lights up soon, you don’t want to risk being the scrooge for a few days now do you? Lucky for you, this risk has a simple fix. Spend Thanksgiving morning stringing the home with lights and on day one of the season you’ll be ready to show your yuletide spirit, making your family proud with the brightest house on the block.
- Prime-Time Pigskin: Thanksgiving will always have its classic NFL matchups. Be it the Lions or the Cowboys, you’re sure to be able to find some good football action on TV. But the real game of the day will never be televised because the prime time-matchup will be going on in your own back yard. Be it flag football or two hand touch, tossing the pigskin around on Turkey Day is just as much an American tradition as the turkey itself. Split up into teams, get the kids involved, and build up that appetite for the post game feast.
- Hats and Crafts: If it’s too cold for the younger kids to stretch their limbs outside, there’s still plenty of fun to be had in the warmth of the great indoors. Like we learned eons ago in our own elementary school days, Thanksgiving offers a great opportunity for arts and crafts, and with a little advance planning, there’s plenty of spirited projects you and the kids can enjoy. A long time favorite amongst kids is the fabled turkey hat. You can even encourage the fun by building your own at the same time. This will teach them the skill of DIY work on a scale they can enjoy and encourage them to have a holiday blast all the while.
TIP: After the pigskin matchup out back, use WD-40® Multi-Use Product to help remove grass-stains off of shoes.
Friday, October 26, 2012, 2:30 PM
It’s no secret that Jack-O-Lanterns are the centerpieces of Halloween tradition. Just like someone who chops down his own Christmas tree and carves his own Thanksgiving bird, a well-cut pumpkin is a man’s way of telling the world he cares about the holidays and is willing to honor the tradition with some elbow grease and hard work. Given that the picking and the carving of the pumpkin is kid friendly with parent supervision, putting together a Jack-O-Lantern is also a great way to get the entire family involved in an October project that you can carry on for years to come.
- Fresh from the Vine: Don’t let the shiny, orange appearance fool you. The exterior of this pumpkin is the foundation for your masterpiece, and picking a sturdy one from the vine is essential to a successful project. Most pumpkins at the local lot are going to be of the Jack-O-Lantern variety, which is the actual name of a style of pumpkin used for making Jack-O-Lanterns. White, or Lumina, pumpkins are another style which hold up well under the scalpel; just be sure that with either type you’re getting a sphere that’s free of rot and has a nice green stem to indicate that it’s freshly picked.
- Guts to Glory: Just like a prize piece of fish or game, a pumpkin must be gutted before it’s ready to be carved. Start by grabbing the pumpkin saw from your pumpkin carving kit and making an incision a few inches away from the stem. Follow this incision around in a circular fashion to cut a big loop that will allow you to pull the top of the pumpkin off. Once open, recruit the small paws of your eager kids and get to pulling out the guts. The inside of the pumpkin should be stripped smooth, and the seeds can be set aside to toast and eat once the work is done.
- Facing Off: With the pumpkin capped and gutted, it’s now time to get down to business giving this thing a face. Sure, it’s possible to jump straight in with the saw and come out with something resembling eyes, nose, and a mouth. But once you make a bad slice there is no eraser, and so the safest method is to draw on the design first with pencil. The trick here is to draw everything a little smaller than the size you actually want it since the thickness of the blade will tend to widen the lines. Once you get to cutting, use slow, steady strokes, and call the kids around to watch and learn how to make those tricky corner cuts.
- Taking it to the Next Level: After the carving is done and the big boy tools are set to the side, now is a perfect time for the younger kids to come in and join the fun with a bit of design. Both permanent felt tip pens or acrylic paints are great ways for them to add some color and bring the face of the pumpkin to life. Painting generally allows for more color blending and the acrylic tends to fade less in wet weather, but since arming kids with paint is a guaranteed mess, be sure to keep this project outdoors. Once the face has been painted, all that’s left is to insert a tea candle in the bottom of the pumpkin and your Jack-O-Lantern will be ready for prime time on its proud porch display.
TIP: Spray WD-40® Multi-Use Product on carving tools to keep pumpkin guts and debris from sticking.