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Super Handyman: A bright idea for updating lamps

Table and floor lamps are great because they can be used wherever and whenever you need them. All you have to do is twist a tiny knob or flip a small switch, which is located up inside a lamp shade and next to a white-hot bulb. But it’s fairly simple to install an in-line switch to most lamps’ electrical cords, which will make switching on the lamp so much easier to do. Here’s how to do it:

Before beginning, examine your lamp’s electrical cord to see where a good place to put an in-line switch might be and mark it with a piece of tape or a marker. Note the size of the cord as well.

Check your hardware store or home center for an in-line switch. They come in a couple of different styles and colors, so choose one that will match your cord for a discreet installation. You’ll find that most are designed to fit around the cord to interrupt the connection and are simple in design.

Before beginning, make sure your lamp is turned “on” and then unplug it. You’ll see why we do this later.

Read the package directions and follow them. Some switches are so simple that you need only a screwdriver and perhaps a simple wire cutter to install them, while others will require the use of wire strippers. Make sure you make secure connections.

When you are finished, plug the lamp back in and give it a shot. With the lamp already turned “on,” your switch will control the current to the lamp.

Now you can turn on that lamp whenever you want to without the struggle that it used to be. What a bright idea!


Q: I need your advice. I am a new handyperson and I’m starting to put together a small workshop. I’m doing a few minor projects and having a lot of fun. I have a nice drill that my uncle gave me and I’ve cleaned it up, but what other regular maintenance do I need to be doing to take good care of it? – T.V.

A: If you don’t have the owner’s manual, go online and see if the manufacturer will get you a copy. Some offer it free for downloading right off the website. Cleaning the drill is always important. A brush or air compressor is a great way to get the sawdust out of the housing. Keeping it lubricated also is very important. If it is corded, make sure the cord isn’t kinked. Keep the battery charged if it runs on batteries. You battery may need to be replaced occasionally.

Super HandyMom tip

Glue tubes and bottles have a problem with drying out between uses. That makes it hard for them to be ready-to-use. I have found that if I store them upside down, with the cap or lid facing downward, it will seal out the air, which usually is what causes them to clog up in the first place. Store them in a bucket of sand if you have trouble making them stand upright.


A new backsplash can cost quite a bit and take a couple of days to complete in most cases. But check out the Fasade Backsplash. It comes in a really good variety of finishes and styles, including stamped copper, metal diamond plate, subway tiles and glass tiles. The peel-and-stick panels mean no glue or grout is required, and you can install one in an afternoon. Sizes vary, but the possibilities are practically endless. They also carry the trim and other fittings that you will need to complete the project.

To find out more and to get inspired, just visit