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Handyman Letter
November 15, 2001


1) Life's blank pages...a message from the Natural Handyman

2) Our appreciation to sites and publications that have recently linked to, listed or featured NH!

3) Sweepstakes Central

4) What's new at

5) Q&A with our readers


7) "Pass the hammer, would ya?"... NH's readers speak out!

8) Featured in the Natural Handyman Bookshop...

9) Recommend our newsletter to a friend... or rate our newsletter!!



It was a dark room but it was full of life. He pulled his knees up to his chest and winced as the pain of an old injury fired up in his right leg. It was raining gently outside... just hard enough to cover up the sounds of his own breathing but not so loud as to shake him fully awake.

Across the deeply shadowed room a small cluster of thirsty plants were swaying in the damp breeze from the half-open slider. They were not his plants... but they shared his life. They rubbed and touched each other, dancing without music in the darkness.

He turned again and his mind's eye cracked open. A glance to the left... it was 4 a.m. . "Time to make the donuts", he chuckled quietly as he forced himself to a sitting position. As the light blanket dropped off his stiff body, the sudden rush of cold air surprised him but didn't immediately inspire him to do anything about it. He sat there, taking count of all his body parts, till he felt able to stand.

He threw on his pajama bottoms, a tee shirt and a pair of loafers... the one's that seemed to know the way to the kitchen. As he walked to the hall and then to the stairs, he thought how it must be for a blind person. He knew his way by touch... in the darkness his hand reached out and found the doorknob without fail. Lord knows they made this trip so many times.

It has gotten so easy. No. Not life; that was still as trying and confusing as ever. The routine, that is. From the moment he woke up to the moment that first swallow of coffee entered his body there was a peace... the peace of the ordinary. Another sip... the body warmed and the other blanket... the sleep-stuffed comforter that covered his mind... began to slip silently to the floor. Wake up... a whisper from a secret place... there are things to do... places to go.

And also things to avoid. And places to drive by. And people... people who should be ignored but can't be avoided. Life... everyday life... lots of toads to kiss but too few princesses rising from warty cloaks.

But the princesses... they are reason for it all. The delicate shimmer of gold-flecked hair and flowing linen. To see this miracle once is to carry it for your whole life, he thought. And he had seen his share of princesses. Such a special gift... a gift of hope that fills life's blank pages with song and verse and lets us rise above our worldly bindings.

Thank heaven for the princesses.

He smiled and held his secret close. For in his heart he knew... as sure as the sun would shortly rise... there are no meaningless days when you have seen a princess.




That's right... be ready or be sorry! Read NH's view of what you should do to prepare yourself and your home for winter's worst!

HAVE A CEDAR ROOF ON YOUR HOME? Check out our new cedar roof maintenance guide, courtesy of the United States Forest Service.



Dear NH,

My pantry doors do not stay flat when I close them... they pop forward and remain slightly open. Is there an adjustment I can make with a screwdriver to fix the problem? (P.S. The doors are fitted in a 36" opening and are quite heavy!)

B from Phoenix, AZ


It depends on the type of hinge that holds your doors. If they are standard "self-closing" cabinet hinges with no adjusting screws, they are probably damaged and need replacement. Heavy doors can distort light-weight hinges. And just plain wear-and-tear can cause the metal spring that operates them to break. Telltale evidence of this is when the hinge makes a sudden "cracking" sound and little pieces of plastic or metal shower to the floor. Even though the doors may still open and close, there is no force keeping them shut so they stay partially open or even resist complete closing. Light weight doors can still self-close with one functioning self-closing hinge... heavy doors rarely do.

There is a second type of common cabinet hinge... the so-called "Euro" hinge. Euro hinges are complicated-looking mechanical hinges that defy understanding... at least at first glance! However, if you examine them with patience, you can figure out how they function. Unlike standard cabinet hinges, Euro hinges can be adjusted to both align the doors and to close completely (assuming they are not broken, of course).

A Euro hinge may have two or even three methods of adjustment, depending on the manufacturer. You will notice that there are a number of visible screws on the body of the hinge. (You might have to pop off a decorative plastic nameplate to get to some of the screws.) Each screw performs a function. Some just hold the hinge together, some are for adjustment only and others perform both functions at the same time. Tightening or loosening the screws is required to adjust the hinge. If the screw offers you the option of using a Phillips or slotted screwdriver, use the slotted... it gives more turning power with less slippage!

Some of the possible functions of the screws are:

1) to hold the hinge to the door or cabinet frame. These may be visible OR may be hidden under the hinge mechanism. Some Euro hinges have two parts... the actual hinge and a "base" plate that is mounted onto the cabinet.

2) to adjust the cabinet doors up or down. These screws may also hold the hinge to the cabinet OR the hinge to the "base" plate (as described in (1) above). Obviously, if a door needs vertical adjustment, ALL hinges holding the door must be adjusted together to move the doors.

3) to adjust the cabinet doors left or right (towards or away from each other). This is the hallmark adjustment of Euro hinges, allowing you to align the doors even if the face of the cabinet is not square. Adjusting one hinge will tip the door... adjusting both will move the doors towards or away from each other. If the door has more than two hinges, the adjustment becomes more complicated. One solution is to temporarily disconnect the center hinge(s) and make adjustments with the top and bottom only. Once the door is aligned, reconnect the center hinge(s) so that it does not change the alignment. Can be tricky but definitely doable!

4) to remove the hinge "body" from brackets attached to the cabinet. This adjustment is also used to move the doors closer or further from the cabinets when the doors are closed.

If a visual inspection doesn't give you a clue as to the screw's function on your hinges, make careful changes in their adjustments and see what happens. Right... good old trial and error! Just be sure to work on the "bottom" hinge only when experimenting. You'll have less chance of a door falling into your lap if you make a mistake!



Dear NH,

I have a 5-inch crack in my Corian countertop. How can I repair the crack?

CM from Wills Point, TX


Solid surface repair ("solid surface" is the generic name for solid resin composite countertops) is not an easy do-it-yourself project, primarily because repair materials are not readily available to consumers and there is a general lack of public information on repair techniques.

It is a shame, because skilled do-it-yourselfers should be able to do a great job on simple repairs. In fact, many woodworkers who have entered the solid surface installation business have found that solid surface machines very much like wood; many of the same tools and techniques are used.

There is a website that does offer repair materials. Art Specialties International at sells Corian and Corian adhesives. Their market is small fabricators of Corian bric-a-brac... but the adhesives used are the same as for countertops.

Both products on the page are used for Corian installations. I have not used either product, but I think that the Dupont Seam Sealer is the one you should try first. The "Cyberbond" is a cyanoacrylate... a close relative to super glue or "crazy" glue. Cyanoacryates are not designed to span gaps. Since a crack is a gap, you will not get much strength in your repair. The literature says it will work on two pieces that are clamped together. That is not the situation with most repairs.

The Dupont Seam Sealer is a two part epoxy, which will not only fill the crack but... if you are lucky with your color choice... will closely match the original countertop when done. This product is supposed to sand just like Corian, meaning that you can smooth it to the same finish you currently have by the use of fine sandpaper. Grades typically used on Corian are the following grits: 220, 300, 400, 600.

From my reading on the topic, a pro would use a random orbital sander with special disks designed for smoothing Corian.


Dear NH,

I want to install bi-fold closet doors in my bedrooms where sliding doors existed previously. The problem is that the openings are 46", which is too small for the standard 2.0' bifold doors. I want to use the 6-panel Masonite type doors as I've used on the bedroom entrance doors. I tried ripping one set of doors and they bowed. Any suggestions, please? (My daughter has requested doors as her only birthday present, so I'm under the gun by daughter and wife!) Thanks in advance.

JS from Washington, PA


I can give you a number of options... choose the one that best suits your needs and abilities.

One would be to use solid doors instead of hollow doors. 6-panel moulded doors are available with a solid core allowing you to cut a little more from each edge without having the doors weaken. Just be sure to cut the same amount from all 4 vertical edges so the doors look balanced. Most prehung bifold door "sets" come with hollow doors, so you will have to order raw solid doors and purchase the bifold hardware separately.

Another option would be to use three doors instead of two... you would have to use standard hinges on the "outside" door since the standard bifold hinges have a support tab that is unattractive on the outside of the door. Then you need to do less trimming per door edge.

In your letter, you mentioned that the doors "bowed" after trimming. This is because you cut off most of the supporting wood along the edges. This wood can be replaced by cutting and then installing a wood strip along the length of the door to reinforce the edge. The new strip is simply glued in place and clamped till dry... usually 24 hours depending on your choice of adhesive. If you want to add a few nails or screws, do it from the back of the door so they won't show.



7) "PASS THE HAMMER, WOULD YA?"... NH's readers speak out!

Dear NH,

Thank you so much for this article (Oct 1, 2001 newsletter). It shows a great deal of wisdom and heart. While those who lost loved ones on Sept. 11 will have a long period of grieving, the rest of us can glean gifts from the event along with our sorrow, especially a renewed appreciation of our lives in this country.

L from Western Oregon


Thanks for writing. We really do have to keep a positive outlook and help others count their blessings, which have not diminished despite the continuous onslaught of negative news from our media. Positive thinking IS contagious... and will hopefully spread to everyone. So go ahead and sneeze on a friend!



Dear NH,

I want to thank you for the neat newsletter, so full of ideas and mind-stimulating articles, etc. Just a comment about your comments... I think you left out a very important aspect regarding fear. God gives me the greatest comfort I could have at this time. He has promised to be with us to the end of time. I just wanted to share that.



Finding comfort in religion is indeed one way to navigate through troubled times... a good addition to any list!



Dear NH,

I patched my airbed last year with Goop and it worked great. However, the leak was from a tear and it has begun to tear again. Is it possible I didn't let the Goop set long enough before using the bed?

I know that rounding a tear can keep it from expanding, but I will then need to fill the hole with some sort of backing piece or patch. Do you have any suggestions?



Goop requires air to dry and requires at least 24 hours to gain full strength. Goop does not "set" like an epoxy... it dries by evaporation of a solvent.

Hey... don't beat up on yourself! If your repair lasted a year, you probably did nothing wrong. It is important to note, though, that using a vinyl patch along with an adhesive helps to reinforce tears and holes, thus extending the repair's life. I am not a vinyl repair expert, and it may be possible that Goop is not be the best repair product. Only your owner's manual would know for sure!

Vinyl patch kits are commonly available in hardware, home and pool supply stores.

In speculation, if you were to use a vinyl patch with Goop, I would recommend applying the Goop to both surfaces, press the patch in place and then pull it off for a minute or two to allow the Goop to begin to set. Then press parts back together. This tip is from the Goop instructional material for bonding non-porous surfaces. As mentioned earlier, the solvent in Goop needs to evaporate for the Goop to set... allowing this "pre-drying" speeds the process along!


Copyright 2001 All rights reserved