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Super Handyman: Get a customized look for your blinds – for a lot less

Blinds offer a variety of design options for homeowners, plus privacy and energy efficiency. They can be expensive, but if you can purchase standard sizes and cut them to fit your windows, you can get that customized look for a lot less. Here’s how to do it.

Shortening your blinds is easier than you might think. Take a close look at your blinds, and you usually will find a place on the bottom piece where you can access the cord, threaded through the blinds from the top to the bottom. There will be at least two of these, and they may be covered with a cap. Access the cord and untie the knots on the end of each cord to release the bottom piece. Remove it, and then remove the excess slats that you don’t need. Replace the bottom piece, retie the knots and cover the access points with the plugs or caps, and you’re finished.

If your blinds are too wide for your windows, you can trim them. Wooden and vinyl shades are easy to trim with tools most of us have on hand. What you need to do is pull the blinds all the way up, then clamp them tightly in place, even at the edges. Use a straight edge and pencil to mark where they need to be trimmed, and split evenly between each side. Tape along this line with masking tape, and then use a chopsaw or hacksaw to carefully and slowly trim down each side. Sand the edges smooth and touch them up with matching paint or stain. Remove the tape, and the blinds will be ready to hang.

You can paint your blinds by just cleaning, priming and painting them. Use the appropriate paint for the type of material your blinds are made of.

If your blinds are old and still have a “looped” cord, then let them all the way down and cut that cord at the bottom. Put beads, or just tie knots, at the ends. This will prevent accidental strangulation. All blinds are required to be made this way today.


Q: Our bathtub won’t hold water any more. It has a standard pull-up drain activator on the side of the tub. This lever moves up and down but doesn’t do anything to the drain. Is there a way to fix this, and how? – H.L.

A: Remove the screws that hold the cover over the lever and pull it out. It’s a long mechanism but, hopefully, it’s still intact. Then, remove the stopper in the tub. Take these parts to your home center and buy replacements. This is a fairly easy repair and should take care of the problem.


Q: Our family picnic table is old, but we’ve had it a long time and want to keep it. The frame is steel, and I plan to remove all of the old wood and replace it with new, synthetic wood. The problem I am running across is that the old bolts holding the old wood now are rusted, and I’m having a hard time removing them. Any help? – R.M.

A: The easiest way to take care of these is to just cut them off. If the wood is old, you should be able to cut or break it away. Then use a hacksaw or reciprocating saw to cut off the old bolts. By the way, you’re really smart to choose the synthetic wood. It’s easy to work with, won’t warp or have splinters and will last probably forever. Enjoy every minute you can with your family. It’s a blessing, for sure!


Radiant floor heaters are a super way to get the warmth without a lot of waste and high bills but, if you’re not ready to redo your floors, you might be interested in a RugBuddy. The RugBuddy comes in different sizes and is made to go under a standard floor rug. It looks like a big heating pad and works in a similar way. These plug-in models are a super-efficient way to heat a small area in your home. To learn more, go to

Got a question or a handy tip? Send it to The Super Handyman at Tips of general interest will be used in future columns.