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Old 12-29-2014, 10:14 AM   #1
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Things I have learned as a DIY Newbie


I first started doing some small things, like installing a ceiling fan. Then I moved to a bathroom remodel where I did about 50% of the work, while working with a contractor. Then I did my other bathroom, where I did about 85% of the work. Now I am working on my Kitchen and am doing everything myself, though I did sub out the drywall seams and the granite counter top fabrication/install. I wanted to write a writeup as I think the "Pros" usually miss a lot of small things that they do innately.

====1) Lesson 1: The right tool for the right job!===
No matter how cheap you want to be, you will be a lot more satisfied, less frustrated and get the job done a lot quicker if you have the right tools. My wife use to say, "do you really need that", now she says "are you sure that is good enough"? I usually shop at Home Depot, Lowes, and Harbor Freight. HF can be seen as very "low price" and/or "cheaply made". I have found very good stuff there for cheap that was better built, than something at a big box store. At the same time I have found things cheaper and better built at big boxes stores. It all depends at what you buy and reviews are your friends. Sometimes the staff assembles demos half arshed, that doesn't truly reflect how good of a product they sell.

Demo Tools:
1) Pry Bar - Get these from a couple of bucks from Harbor Freight
2) Hammer - You should already have one
3) Box Cutter - and Blades, blades, and more blades. Change your blades frequently for accurate clean cuts. Also a dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp one.
4) Saw All - I got mine for under $30 at harbor freight, seems to do a good job. I also got some extra Dewalt Blades on sale for cheap as the Harbor freight ones got bad reviews, they were both around the same price.
5) Protection - Get some protective glasses, ear plugs, and dust masks. Be surprised how much stuff fakes off and can get you in the eye.

I don't use a sledge and make lots of dust like you see in the DIY shows. I find it more comfortable for all to take out big sections with less dust than smashing everything up.

Construction essentials:
1) Impact Driver and Drill Combo! - I stress this a lot as the impact driver is the most amazing magical tool I have ever used. You can easily pull out those 3" cabinet screws w/ ease. Makes slippage and stripping a rarity. I started out with a HF impact driver, when they were pricey and rare. Now that they came out with less expensive ones, I got a good Ryobi Combo w/ 2x Lithium-Ion batteries for my father in law for $99. It is much better than my harbor freight. I ended up getting new Ridgid combo for $279 for myself when I got the Ryobi from HD and they took $100 off, during a special. Avoid Ni-Cad batteries, they take longer to charge, are heavier, and have memory. This makes it easier to kill your Ni-Cad battery.

2) Chop Saw/Miter Saw - I got a good sliding 10" compound miter saw from HF, it is very highly recommended. You will need this for "chopping" (cutting the 2x4 side) of a 2x4. It is also great for trim!

3) 90* Dewalt angle for impact driver. This allows you to get into some tight spaces, for $17 and it is a Dewalt, I recommend this for any tight spot.

4) Table saw - For nice strait cuts and "ripping" (Really long cuts) I got a table saw and LOVE IT! I got a Ridgid portable table saw for about $199. I attempted to use a circular saw w/ fence to make rips, but was having a hard time doing it. I broke down and bought a Table saw and was wondering why I didn't before. I also spent about $50 for a good Diablo blade for cutting laminates. This gives me little to no chipping. Also some people recommend using tape to reduce splintering.

5) Roller Stands - These little stands look like an upside down paint roller with a stand. They also adjust to height. I got two from HF for about ~$13 and they are well built. It is great for long pieces of trim on the miter or large boards on the table saw.

6) Shop Vac - Get one of these and don't screw up your wive's/husband's vacuum. I got a Ridgid and got another a HEPA filter for dust collection. I would also recommend buying filter bags as well to increase the life of your vacuum. It will also maintain better suction for much longer.

7) Wet Tile Saw - I got one of these instead of the cheap scoring tool. You can also do a lot more on a tile saw. I paid about $100 for my Ryobi that has a 7.25" blade. I also got a pump from HF for about $8 to recirculate the water. I used it in both bathroom remodels and Kitchen. I would put it in front of the table saw, if you plan on doing a lot of tiling. I tiled both floors of my bathrooms, the wall of one bathroom, and the back splash of the kitchen. When it was below 30* I poured hot water into the tile saw reservoir and used the recirculating pump to prevent me from being completely miserable.

8) Combination Square - These tools are awesome you can find out the exact length, depth, it has a strait edge and is more accurate than a measuring tape. I opted for a 16" one and use it more than I use my tape measure. It even comes with a little tool to help you scribe.

9) Jig Saw - Black and Decker has a bad reputation now, but the Jig saw I got from them had great reviews and was well priced. I have used it to cut a cat door and to cut scribed lines. It seems easier to use the jigsaw than the circular saw.

10) Circular Saw - I haven't been able to find great use for my circular saw with the exception for cutting some sections of laminate floor out. I prefer my table and my chop saw over this tool. Though it does have it places, I will put this lower on my list. For twice the price of this you can get a table saw or for the same price you can get a miter saw.

11) Clamps - A few bucks each, I never knew it would be this helpful. Though working against yourself doesn't help you get your work done any quicker. I also would get about 8 of these. Some big, some small.

===2) Knowledge is Power!===

1) Use forums like these as they are very helpful in finding out the best/right way to do it.

2) It never goes as easy as they show in the HGTV shows. The shows they have much experience in problem solving the issues that come with remodeling. They also don't show all the effort things can take as well as all of the headaches they run into, unless there is drama.

3) It is never as easy as you think it is, but it is still doable. Expect to add 2-3 times more hours than you think it will take. Things can get unexpectedly harder when you start adding ducts, electrical, plumbing, and structural components. They also can combine to make things more work than it is worth.

4) Plumbing can cause mold and electrical can cause fire. Make sure things are done properly. Even though it will work or it fits, doesn't mean it won't leak or catch fire. Try to follow codes and ask questions to people that are qualified. There are different gauge wires, breakers, and wire nuts for a reason.

This is all I can think of now.
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Old 01-12-2015, 02:21 PM   #2
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Thanks for the list! We've been debating whether to invest in a table saw or not. I think you've nudged us towards it!
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Old 01-12-2015, 02:55 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MaryAguila View Post
Thanks for the list! We've been debating whether to invest in a table saw or not. I think you've nudged us towards it!
Great to hear, check out reviews online, and if possible play with them at the store. If it feels fimsy, then so will your work. I was looking at 3 table saws for around the same price ~$200. It was a cobalt, ridgid, and a dewalt. I ended up with the ridgid and love it. It felt better built than the other two. The dewalt was very unimpressive for it's name. It could only cut up to 16", while the other two could cut 24". It also can't accept a dado blade. The Kobalt came with a folding stand and a out feed, though it didn't feel as solid as the ridgid. I ended up buying a stand for the table saw and 2 rollers. I am very happy!

I would suggest a job site table saw. They have come a long way. My neighbor was impressed as he has a full size Delta table saw that mosy likely cost $800+.

Also the dust collection of my ridgid table saw is the best of all my power tools. My HF miter saw puts out a lot more dust than the ridgid table saw. I do use my shop vac for both. My neighbor said my table saw owns his in this catagory.
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Old 01-12-2015, 03:09 PM   #4
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If the shop vac is going to be your dust collector, consider adding a Dust Deputy ahead of it. It works great. You won''t have to hassle with changing filter bags because they will always be clean. Google it. Many use it.

A 12 inch chop saw will cut a 1x12 shelving board in one pass.
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Old 01-12-2015, 04:08 PM   #5
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I only changed my bag once so far and that was after a project. I don't do this profressionally, but if I did, I would look into it. Space is a premium for me. I wish I could setup a system so I dont have to keep switching the vac between power tools.
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