Thursday, July 24, 2008

Moment of Sven (Volume I)


You met Sven a few days ago. He's here today to really get the ball going on your weekly Moment of Sven. Take it away Sven . . .




Hello, fellow internetizens! I must say that I am very excited at the prospect of helping people all across the world! It's almost like the time that I got my own television show in Finland. I started out as a grip (I held a lighting apparatus), but due to a sweeping case of botulism, I was the only person left in the studio that could stand upright. For that reason alone, I was chosen to be the new host of " Moeilijke situatie het allen met een ei!", or "Fix it all with an egg!", which is an incredibly popular weeknight show in my home country. The premise of the show was simple. Anything could be fixed with nothing but an egg.

It was often tough to accomplish, but given enough time, you truly can fix anything with an egg. Unfortunately, the lifespan of the average human is less than the time required to fashion a functional screwdriver or pair of pliers from an egg.

With actual tools at my disposal, I am confident that I should be able to fix practically anything. I'm very much looking forward to seeing what problems we can overcome!

With that being said, I would like to make my first article a small collection of "quick-tips" that require little or no tools. They very well might be things that you've picked up in your travels already but for those of you that haven't seen them, there are a couple that just might make your life a little easier in exchange for very little investment. As much as I would like to continue this monologue, I guess it's time we got started.

1) Use bar soap for lubricating stuck and stubborn drawer slides: If you own antiques, then you are probably familiar with this hindrance. Before the use of rollers, wheels and bearings to smooth the opening of drawers, builders just used the sides of the drawers to guide the drawer in and out of the pocket. Although it initially worked great and was an incredible benefit considering the alternative of carrying around all of your belongings on your person, over time they can begin to stick due to wear, swelling and simple fatigue. If the drawers on your sideboard are beginning to resist your efforts to pull it open, simply flip the drawer over and run a bar of soap over the side rails where it contacts the frame of the pocket. You'll know the contact point, because it will be shiny. Replace the drawer and watch your toes, as the next time you jerk on the handle really hard, the drawer may end up on your foot.

2) Use metal thumbtacks to raise settling drawers: This is another thing I picked up while dealing with old furniture. Another problem with old drawers is that over time, the front of the drawer begins to settle, due to the side rails wearing into the frame. It makes sense that as you pull the drawer out, the strain on the contact points increase due to the added leverage when the weight of the drawer is suspended in front of the piece of furniture. If you pull the drawer, depending on the age of the piece of furniture, you may find wear pockets so deep that the bottom of the drawer has begun to drag in the frame of the opening. If you want to get the action of your drawer back, you can simply use some flat top steel tacks (with the shiny metal button tops) and press them into the worn tracks at the front of the frame opening. This will raise the front of the drawer closer to where it belongs and upon opening, it won't sag as much. If you've placed your tacks and it's not completely resolved the issue, you can get a little more of your angle back by doing the following. Many drawers have a guide that runs over the top of the drawer and as the drawer opens, the rear of the drawer will push against this as the cantileavered force from the open drawer forces the rear up. Simply place another tack at the rear of the drawer where it contacts this guide rail. Again, you'll find the correct location by looking for the shiny worn mark.

3) Use toothpicks and glue to repair stripped and oversized screw holes: If you live in an older home, you may find that some of your doors rub at the top when you close them. They may rub so badly that you can't close them. If you've tried to tighten the screws on the jamb of the door where the hinges connect, you may have found that some simply spin in the hole. If you pull them, you may also find that someone kept putting larger screws into the holes in an effort to combat the stripped hole. You can repair the hole and go back to standard size screws with nothing but some toothpicks and wood glue. Remove the screws holding the hinge to the jamb and pull the hinge plate away from the jamb. Take four or five toothpicks(I like square toothpicks the best for this) and dab some glue onto them, allowing the glue to cover all of them evenly. Push the toothpicks into the stripped hole by hand then tap them in as far as you can with a hammer or the butt of your screwdriver. Wait ten minutes for the glue to dry, then cut off the protruding portions of the toothpicks. Swing the hinge back into place and replace the screws that weren't stripped. This will return the hinge plate to the location it was supposed to be in. After the hinge plate is back in place, center the correct size screw in the screw hole on the hinge. Tap the screw with the butt of the screwdriver to indent it into the wood properly, then tighten the screw in place. Note that it's much better to pre-drill the hole before replacing the screw, but if you don't have a drill handy, tapping the screw usually works just fine. Note that this doesn't always solve the issue of sticking doors. Stripped screws are usually a symptom of people overtightening the screws in an attempt to fix a problem that wasn't caused by loose screws in the first place. I could make a day of fixes for stuck doors, but I will digress until someone actually asks about it.

4) Use crayons to hide furniture scratches: If your child drags your coffee table across a concrete surface, you are going to need to refinish the piece. If you only need to hide a couple scratches, dents or blemishes, there is an alternative. Furniture refinishing product vendors sell special refinishing pencils that offer a lot of colors. You can save a lot of money by simply grabbing your child's 48 crayon Crayola box, finding the closest match and using it to pencil in over the damaged area. Once you've filled the scratch with wax, polish with cheesecloth or similarly soft cloth. This method will usually hide problems from all but the most observant visitor.

5) Vinegar and water can remove microwave stains and smells: After months or years of use, microwaves can get to smell pretty badly. Simply place a bowl of water with a few capfuls of vinegar into the microwave and heat for two to three minutes. Afterwards, simply wipe down the interior of the microwave with a mild cleanser. Providing the microwave wasn't neglected, this will usually remove all but the most stubborn smells and stains.

6) You can adjust the size of text on any web page on the fly: Some sites use font styles that are hard to read and with today's new super-huge monitors, we're sometimes left with our noses against the screen trying to read the text on a web page. The next time you find yourself squinting to read some text on a webpage, simply hold down the Ctrl key on your keyboard, and scroll the center wheel on your mouse up to enlarge the text and down to make the text smaller. Alternatively, you can use the "+" and "-" keys on your keyboard while holding down the Ctrl key at the same time for the same effect.

7) Restore pressure at a particular faucet by cleaning the filter screen: You may sometimes find that water pressure is fine throughout your house except for one or two faucets. If this is the case, you may be able to raise the pressure on the problem faucets by cleaning the filter screen. At the spigot, where the water exits the faucet body, you'll often find a round fitting that houses the aerator. Unscrew this by hand or pliers, being careful to protect the order in which the parts come out of the faucet. Pay attention, as you need to replace it in the same order that it came out! Often, you'll find sediment and buildup on a filterscreen or on the aerator itself, if the faucet has one. Clean the parts well and replace. If the low pressure is at a showerhead, unscrew the head from the shower neck. Look for a screen inside the threaded fitting. If cleaning doesn't solve your problem, you may have calcium buildup in the showerhead itself. Soak the showerhead in a vinegar and water mixture overnight, then replace. If the low pressure is at your clothes washer, you can usually find the filter screens at the ends of the hoses that connect to the hot and cold valves in the wall of your house. Shut off the valves and unscrew the hoses. Clean the screens and replace, being sure to tighten the hoses well.

8) Inflate a flat wheelbarrow, lawnmower or bike tire with a hand pump by using your belt or piece of rope: Sometimes, the bead on the side of a tire comes loose from the rim, leaving you unable to inflate the tire with a simple hand pump, since the air escapes as quickly as you can pump it. If you run into this problem, simply wrap your belt or a piece of rope around the tire. Run the belt through the buckle and pull it back to tighten. As the belt tightens on the tire, it will usually push the sides of the tire out to meet the rim, restoring the seal. If it doesn't happen the first time, loosen the rope or belt, adjust the tire on the rim and try it again.

What, you were hoping for ten tips? Well, I have to save something lest I should end up having another week with no preset topics to discuss. I only know how to do 13 cool things with little or no tools. At least this way, I have five things to talk about next time.

Happy trails,
Sven

22 comments:

Homely Animal said...

Dear Sven, great info, long post! I almost had to get a baby sitter to be able to read this whole thing uninterrupted! ;)

Pink Lemonade Boutique Bags said...

Great information! Thank you so much for sharing! I am off to find the crayons to look at some of the scratchs on our coffee table.

Anxiously awaiting the next installation of helpful tidbits!

kiddlebug said...

I'm going to try the crayon trick as well. I already tried markers to fill in the marks but let's see how the crayons work. Thanks Sven!

Lisa said...

Sven any tips on re-finishing furniture? I have an old kitchen table with the legs cut down, that we use as a coffee table in the living room. The table top needs to be re-fnished badly, but the rest is in good shape. Many years of kids running cars and trains around the table have really taken their toll on it. Any tips you can give this would be helpful! Lisa

Lisa said...

Sven any tips on re-finishing furniture? I have an old kitchen table with the legs cut down, that we use as a coffee table in the living room. The table top needs to be re-fnished badly, but the rest is in good shape. Many years of kids running cars and trains around the table have really taken their toll on it. Any tips you can give this would be helpful! Lisa

Lisa said...

Oops looks like I double posted - sorry about that!

Mariah said...

Not sure if it's just me, but your pop out player blocks part of each of your newest posts. Just wanted to let you know, but as I said, it could just be me...I'm SO NOT technically savvy, even with blogs!

Amy said...

just found your blog, looks like I've been missing out. I love your play list.. some great songs!

I'll be back.

Renna said...

Wow! No more straining to read those tiny little fonts that some blogs use!

My glasses are off to you, Sven!

Jean said...

I live in an old house full of antiques (well, that's what WE call 'em) and your tips are greatly appreciated! Look forward to your next visit!

Jaimee said...

Gee, Thanks Sven!
Lots of great pointers!

Di said...

Love it! Sven, you rock! I second the refinishing furniture request from the comment above. Any good tips?

Mom said...

Hmm - no more squinting, Who knew?

Thanks Sven

Yes. That's Dana's mom

Tine said...

Love it! I feel very confident that there will be plenty of questions for you to answer, Sven :-)

Stacy said...

What great tips. Thanks Sven. I will try the microwave thing in the morning. I was wondering how to make dinner magically appear without having to pay for delivery. Any thoughts? Really though, we have a claw foot bath tub, porcelain. I died my hair in it once (dark brown) and it stained the bottom of the tub. I have tried everything I can think of, including many bleach related things and it just wont come out. Is this a lost cause or is there hope? Thanks Sven and Dana. Hopefully yours, Stacy

Helz said...

Also trying the Microwave Tip... Thank You Sven & Dana for discovering You !!!

Helz said...

Oh Heck Dana almost forgot to ask you to drop by my Blog I have an award for you...

Kathleen said...

Sven, where have you been all my life? WOW!!! When the font on my screen got bigger when I hit control and scrolled I squealed out loud! I am excited to try the others! thanks Dana for at least cyber-sharing Sven! Happy, happy...ok I'm easily amused!

sara said...

Love this blog & all the tips! Can't wait for the next installment!

Takin' time to smell the flowers! said...

Very helpful Sven, thanks. I love the crayon trick...Can't wait for more!

Tipper said...

Sven-Dana was right you are amazing! My favorite tip was the font one-very cool.

Jeanette M said...

Thanks Sven. Very handy tips. Especially the font size. What a relief. My near vision has been greatly decreasing over the past year. Any tips for pitting cherries without staining my fingernails? Pitted some for a smoothie last night and tried using whitening toothpaste to remove the cherry stain. Most came off but not all. Might try some baking soda later.

Thanks again.