Q&A / 

April 23, 2013 AsktheBuilder Newsletter & Tips

Here's an interesting question for you.

How are you challenging yourself this spring (fall if you live below the equator!) when it comes to home improvement projects? You do realize it pays to step outside your comfort zone every now and then. My father-in-law, who just celebrated his 96th birthday three days ago, had a saying: Nothing builds success like success.

When you do a job yourself, you can frequently save money and you build your confidence at the same time. That's how I advanced myself through the building vocation nearly 40 years ago.

Here's what I'm doing to challenge myself since I pretty much have the home improvement gig down pretty well. I'm learning Morse Code. I'm really trying to immerse myself in it, and I'm having fun.

Last week, I received my QSL cards from the printer, and mailed out my first two cards hours later! A QSL card is an old tradition among amateur radio operators. It's a written record, or receipt, of a conversation between two radio operators.

The design of some cards is very unique. Here's what the front of my card looks like. My daughter Meghan did the design with photos I supplied.


I'm lucky that I have three fellow hams who are mentoring me through this Morse Code chapter of my radio hobby: Jim Cluett, W1PID - Hanz Busch, W1JSB - and Dick Christopher, N1LT.

I'd like to help mentor you in your upcoming projects. Much of it I can do for free. I've got thousands of free columns at my website, many of which give you helpful hints on how to do things. Just use my search engine to find what you need.

I've got hundreds of free videos at my website you can watch. Same thing, use my search engine and always add the word "video" in your search. For example: roof cleaning video

Finally, I've now got over 30 step-by-step DIY Video Series that really show you how to do things. I'm creating more video series each month. See below for the next three I'm getting ready to tape.


Have you been paying attention to the rapid advancements of flashlights over the past few years? Wow! I clearly remember the days of tapping a flashlight with my hand to try to get it to work. Most new flashlights are amazingly reliable, durable and BRIGHT!

LED technology has really moved the flashlight ball down the field.

I just tried out a small LED Hybrid Light by Snap-on. It's got a fancy red aluminum handle and top cap, 16 LEDs that are in the wand part of the light and one LED in the tip that works like a regular flashlight you point. The magnetic base makes this useful for working in mechanical rooms, or any place you're working that has metal you can attach the light to.

The trouble is, the people at Snap-on don't have this flashlight available for you at Amazon.com to buy! Isn't that crazy? Not to worry! I won't leave you in a pickle without a flashlight.

Here's a flashlight that everyone should have. It doesn't need batteries! I have one and I LOVE it. Oh my gosh is it ever a cool flashlight.

LED Hybrid Light by Snap-on

Not only can it get energy by just exposing it to sunlight (small solar collector cells on the body), but you just crank it and it stores the energy created by a miniature generator.

Talk about handy! When you need a flashlight, it always seems the batteries are dead or close to it. That's why you need several of these no-battery flashlights! One for your house, one for each car, one in your camping gear box, etc. The flashlight easily stores in a woman's medium-sized purse.

Buy some of these little hand crank flashlights now. It's part of my Get Prepared course that's going to happen this summer.


How hard do you work? Or, do you play harder than you work? Are you a Daredevil when you do?


Either way, if you send in a simple photo of you doing either you could win some sweet Daredevil swag.

Bosch is giving away cool stuff each week that could help you work or play even harder! Would you like a Daredevil circular saw blade? Or a Bosch Daredevil spade bit-set? Or how about a classy Bosch Daredevil t-shirt?

I can tell you that it pays to enter these contests. Just last year an AsktheBuilder.com subscriber won some sweet gear from Bosch!

If you don't win, you absolutely want to consider Bosch Daredevil bits and blades for your tools. Not only are they a great value, they'll make what you build better. Straighter cuts, smoother holes and all around better quality. Daredevil accessories allow you to work faster so you can play longer!

CLICK HERE to enter the Work Hard, Play Hard contest and see Daredevils like you.


Spring usually means washing windows. I have to do it here at my house. Who wants to come help?

Unfortunately many people don't use the best method and tools to wash windows. As with many things, there's lots and lots of bogus information out on the Internet about cleaning windows and glass.

Think about it for a second. Who do you think knows the BEST way to wash windows? It's a person who has money on the line. Professional window washers. It's in their best interest to get glass perfectly clean and do it FAST.

Pros do NOT USE:

  • newspapers (soy ink smears on glass)
  • blue liquids in spray bottles (I'm convinced there's a chemical in the liquid that attracts dirt.)
  • paper towels
  • ammonia

The pros use a special cleaning wand that's frequently made with lambs wool. They then use any number of high-quality squeegees to dry the glass once it's clean.

The lamb's wool wand is dipped in a solution of water that has a small amount of liquid soap in it. This wand is what gets the glass CLEAN. The squeegee simply removes water from the glass to prevent spotting - it does NOT clean the glass.


Click here for the squeegee I use at the Carter Casa.

You can also get the combination lambs-wool pad and squeegee as one combo tool. I have one of these as well, and it works really, really well.


I wanted to remind you that you have to be REALLY careful out there on the Internet when it comes to home improvement information.

Last week, I touched on a tectonic shift in Google's search algorithm that caused low-quality content to be on page one of Google's search results. This is why I've switched to using Bing.com. Bing seems to be putting up much better home-improvement results. Don't believe me? Try it yourself at BingitOn.com.

Realize there are several content farm websites out there like ehow dot com that pay people $5 or $10 to write a column. If you want to know all the suspect content farm websites to AVOID, just go to Bing.com and type in: "top content farms".

Many of these writers have NO hands-on experience in the topic. They just go out and find other columns about the topic, including mine, and copy / paste parts of each one to make a regular column.

Guess what? These pirates - I say that because they are abusing the Fair Use Doctrine - don't know if the content they're cobbling together is accurate or not!

If you stumble across a fancy looking column at ehow dot com, you may get sucked into the Black Hole of Death and walk away with bad information.

Be CAREFUL out there ...... And pass the word to all you know.


I've got three new video series that should happen in the next five weeks. These will not be free videos. All three will be available for either online viewing or on a DVD. Tell me if you have these projects or problems?

  • Wet or Leaky Basement or Crawlspace
  • Need a Window in a Solid Wall
  • Need an Easy but Stylish Covered Firewood Storage System

Well, I'm going to show you how to:

  • Install one of my famous Linear French Drains to keep your basement DRY
  • Cut an opening in a wall and install a new window
  • Build an attractive firewood storage shelter with a sloped gable and hip roof

Be SURE TO OPEN all upcoming newsletters IMMEDIATELY. Why? I'm not going through Kickstarter to do these projects. I'll be running the promotions myself in my shopping cart.

I'll have Early Bird Specials that WILL SELL OUT. The lowest prices on these products will be gone by the end of the day, so you need to act quickly.

I urge you to open next week's newsletter on TUESDAY so you can be one of the lucky folks to get a great deal on all of these products.


I'm going to be in far western Maine for three days in May: the 17th, 18th and 19th. I'll be doing one-hour seminars at the Fryeburg, Maine Home and Garden Show. Fryeburg is just across the border from New Hampshire up near Mt. Washington.

When I'm not doing the seminars, I'll be selling hundreds of the new small bottles of Stain Solver!

If you live in the general area and want to have a meet up, let me know. We can go to dinner on Friday or Saturday night if you want.

More tips next week!


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