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July 2007
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September 2007

How to fix a broken window OR make a mirror from an old window

Hung_100_dpi Glass Backwards - Revive a busted window or convert it to a mirror

 Everyone should know how to fix a broken window because projectiles happen. And behind every projectile is a surprised child, so you might as well teach your kids how to fix broken windows too. It’ll save them years of allowance.

Now, if you live in an apartment or condo and you never get pelted with baseballs or rocks, I know how disappointing that can be. But take heart, because you can use these glazing techniques to create a cool mirror from an old window.

There’s nothing quite so noble as an old window. It has a special look that says “I’ve been through some stuff.” Like the look of a married guy who’s nearing the end of his mid-life crisis and still hasn’t bought a sports car or shaved his head or daydreamed about the cashier in the Tim Horton’s drive-thru. It’s a look that says “I can hang on a little longer, but it better be worth it.” And that’s darn attractive in a man. Or a window.


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How to wash windows the professional way

Glass Ho! 

Insider tips for sparkly windows - WATCH the TOOLGIRLVIDEO of this amazing technique!

Mag_small Did you know that there are world class window-cleaning conventions where people compete in speed trials to see who can squeegee a window fastest?  They're clocking under 30 seconds for a big store window.  Sweet.

If you're like most of us, you're using Window Washing Option A from the list below.  If you're a hot-dogger, you might  find yourself in the Option C category.

Option A

Some people use paper towels, ammonia-based cleaners and an old-fashioned lubricant called ‘elbow-grease’. However, rubbing a window with paper towels puts a static charge on the glass and then it’s dirty again as soon as you’re finished. Where does this register on the Handyperson’s Emotional Scale? Somewhere around “Just shoot me”.

 Option B

You can pay a professional window-washing company to make your glass sparkly. Attractive young men with rippling musculature will swarm over your home for several hours. It may be worth it, especially if you live with your mother-in-law and she needs entertaining. Encourage her to pass snacks to the young men and yell, “Nice glass!”

Option C

Refuse to give those window-washing fellows all of the arm-sculpting opportunities. Invest about $40 and set yourself up for a lifetime of fun and deltoids that are perfectly al dente.

Here are some tips to get a fast, flawless, professional sheen on your windows.   

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How to make a cedar strip door mat

Strip Down!  -  A woody doormat in under an hour



I saw a doormat on the Internet that made me think. Its entire surface is covered by a giant barcode to wipe your feet on. The description says “For your unique home in your unique neighborhood.” ($25 at

 As a rule I dislike sarcasm. But the point they’re making is that when you go shopping in the usual places you’re not going to find anything unique. You’re choosing from the same stuff everyone else is choosing from. Your only hope for individuality is to utilize your items in unique ways, say, by using an air mattress as a doormat or making hanging baskets out of bras or edging your flower garden with luggage. Oh, I have tons of ideas.

Mat_about_you The road to uniqueness passes through your own brain. Start by forming an idea for something truly unique that you would love to have in your home. Figure out what something like that would cost. Spend a fraction of that money on tools and make it yourself.

To help you get started, here are plans for a unique wooden doormat. Making this doormat is like building a miniature deck. All of the principles are the same. The bottom layer is the ‘framing’, and the top layer is the ‘decking’.  If you’ve never built a deck before, this project will teach you the basics without using up a whole weekend and two cases of beer.


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How to Remove Scratches from Your Car - Readers' tips and queries


I like enthusiasm. I like people who do their automobile maintenance in the parking lot at Canadian Tire because they’re too excited to drive home and install the new wiper blades in their own driveway.

 At my Canadian Tire there are so many of us working on our cars in the parking lot that local entrepreneurs caught on and now we’ve got a Hotdog Cart. Because standing around on hot asphalt with the hood up just makes you crave a foot-long.

 I’ve been getting mail from all over Canada about the subject of car care.  Some people have questions and others have tips.  Here is a quick selection of the messages from fellow enthusiasts on the road of life.

Hi Mag,

My name is Derek. I read your article in TO Sun regarding the appearance of haze on the dashboard. Thank you for the tip, but I do have one question. Where can I get the denatured alcohol (methylated spirits)?? to get rid of the haze, which is driving me CRAZY.

Thank you,

Derek (Mississauga)

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DIY Garage Flooring

Okay, who doesn't want a patented, multi-purpose floor system designed to give your garage the hot look of a professional shop?  Made from high-impact copolymer, MotoFloor is built to withstand oil, chemicals, extreme rolling loads and 'tough mechanical environments' like when you require the emotional release of tool-throwing.  A typical one-car garage needs 4 boxes of tiles @ $164.99 each.  Black and white or charcoal.  Hot or what?
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This durable, multi-purpose floor system is designed to give you a clean professional work environment that can withstand tough mechanical environments. It is resistant to oil, grease, petroleum, antifreeze and most household chemicals. Great for garages, shops, retail displays or anywhere tough flooring is needed. Easy to set up and clean.

  blog it

How to crochet with wire

Closeup_dusk_2 Wired Science

Sometimes the road to home repair has so many potholes it’s better to pull over and park.

Here’s how to tell when it’s time to take a break:

· You just spent a whole morning looking for spare slide-rule parts on eBay

· When the phone rings, you feel defensive

· You avoid eye contact with hardware store sales associates because you don’t want to have to explain how much trouble you’re in

·You’ve nicknamed your toolbox The Yellow Scum

The best thing you can do at this point is distract yourself. Try hoisting your ego by using a different skill set, one that involves sitting down, frequent snacking and enduring noise no louder than the hum of the beer fridge. 

I chose crocheting.  But not normal crocheting.


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Plank Flooring for Any Budget

Hanky Planky - (I wrote this article on plank floors 5 years ago and am still getting requests for it every week, so here's the original text plus some additional photographs.)


As I approach the cusp of middle age the closest I’ve come to having any design allegiance is that my furniture is the same stuff I had in university, placing me in the Early Student school of décor. The one exception is the bedroom, where I have a high-end mattress, but only because my futon got so compacted it was about to become the next black hole.

So you probably shouldn’t take my decorating advice. Unless you have the problem I’m about to describe, or you have hardwood tastes on a paint budget.


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3M Rust Avenger Discontinued - Just shoot me

Trusted Rust-Buster Dusted!

A discontinued product creates reader alarm


I was so excited last week to tell you about the beloved 3M Rust Avenger, a product I bought at Home Hardware three years ago and have adored ever since. It’s a pen-sized dispenser of a chemical compound that bonds with rust molecules, rendering it hard, inert and paintable. Perfect for dings on cars, scratches on bikes, spots on shovels, and worth the $5.99 outlay since a recent study reveals that the annual direct cost of corrosion in the U.S. alone is $276 billion.


Many readers wrote to ask where to buy Rust Avenger, eager to watch their personal rust accumulations disappear faster than relatives after a chili dinner.


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