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The Super Handyman: Now is the time for DIY projects

During the winter, most of our DIY projects will need to be done in the garage or workshop. That makes this time of year great for refinishing furniture. If you are going to strip the finish from a table or some other piece, try some or all of these tips to get the job done more quickly and easily.

First of all, set up the area where you will be working. It needs to have a dropcloth, good lighting and extra ventilation in some cases.

I like to use paint strippers when I can, because they do a pretty good job. But I will always look for a less-caustic formula if available. Water-based strippers work very well if you follow the directions to the letter.

Please wear safety glasses, gloves and a dust mask to protect yourself. You can check the package for any other extra precautions you need to take.

If you need any specific tools, like putty knives, plastic trowels, plastic sheeting or anything else, make sure to gather these items before beginning as well.

If the piece you are working on has handles, drawer pulls or hinges, remove these before starting. You also should remove drawers or doors, if you can.

It might be easier to set the piece on a table or sawhorses to make it easier to reach.

After the initial stripping is done, there probably will be some small areas that need to be addressed. These can sometimes be cleaned with toothpicks, toothbrushes, sanding sticks and smaller tools like these.

Make sure that all of the stripper has been removed and neutralized, and that you give the piece plenty of time to dry afterward before moving forward with your project.

Take your time and enjoy the process. Rejuvenating a piece of furniture can be a lot of fun and very rewarding.


Q: My loft has nice-looking wooden floors. They are original but have been refinished to look better. The problem is that they creak and squeak a lot. Is there any way to do something minor to resolve this issue? – H.V.

A: Sometimes you can install talcum powder in the joints of the floor to lubricate them. Sweep the powder into the joints to get it into place. You also might try getting some oil into the cracks as well. You might just need to learn to enjoy the charm of the old floors.


If you have done a good job of weatherproofing your home, and I’m sure you have, it will be sealed up tightly. This will save energy, but may in some cases, create a mildew problem. Mildew not only looks and smells bad, it can ruin walls, carpeting and just about any surface it gets on. Learn how to rid your home of this problem once and for all and keep it from coming back. We’ve put together a pamphlet called “Mildew Around Your House,” and it is full of tips on how to get rid of mildew and protect your biggest investment, as well as your family’s health.

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