This is a guest post from Pete. Pete Wise is a content developer and white-hat SEO Jedi. This article was written for Discount Decorating Online who sell deeply discounted wallpaper and wallpaper borders. Follow Pete on twitter: @MySEOHeadache
Hi, my name is Pete, and I consider myself a bit of a handyman. I feel that projects come together intuitively for me and I can figure out a solution to any project problem.
According to my girlfriend, “being a handyman” means hanging things crooked the first few times, struggling when I don’t have to, and multiple unnecessary holes in the wall. She tries to talk some sense into me every single time, but somehow I manage to forget it all.
Here they are, and since she used to work construction for 4 years, these are tips all DIY-ers, myself included, need to stop ignoring.
1) Measure Twice… Or Three Times
I know, I know. Everyone out there that already heeds this advice is slowly shaking his or her head at me. I understand.
I learned this lesson the hard way just a week ago. I was trying to replace the molding around one of our mirrors in the living room. Of course I measured the first time, but failed to double-check the markings on the plank. Sure enough, after running it quickly over my table saw, I was 1/4th of an inch short.
My girlfriend always tells it this way:
“Nothing is more fun in construction than using your power tools. You get to use these incredibly powerful, super dangerous, and unreasonably loud things to destroy, build, and manipulate the shape of literally anything. Why in gods name would you allow yourself the chance to experience the feeling of failure? Power tools should only be associated with good vibes. Measure twice Pete.”
2) Research the 3 M’s: Method, Marks, and Materials
Another of the girlfriend tips here. Make sure that before you start a project you know how you are going to get from start to finish (method); that you have all the help you need (Marks); and that what you use to build is of high quality AND compatible with one another (materials).
We have a mutual friend, named Mark, who is the inspiration for the second “M”. Mark is a guy who worked hard and got lucky in business, and now he spends his time doing whatever the hell he pleases. He just happens to love building things and drinking beer, two things I am very fond of.
Usually I dive straight into any project I need to complete. Invariably, halfway through the process I realize that another person is necessary to lift, hold, or stabilize something. I desperately call Mark hoping to catch him, and it always works out that in my time of need, he is helplessly busy. Know how you’re going to get it done, and whom you are going to get it done with before you even start.
Materials are the one that I’m usually pretty good about. It only took one time to realize why researching your materials are important. I once had to repair my original Optimus Prime action figure. I loved this thing as a kid, and felt that my own child-to-be would love it too. Not researching the materials, however, yielded disaster. I used glue that literally melted through most of Optimus. Making a badass robot look like a scrap heap; never again.
3) Use the RIGHT tools
Since I rely mostly on my intuition and problem solving skills to get a project from start to finish, hacking things together with what I have available is the norm. However, there is a reason that there are multiple types of hammers or saws, and you really should take advantage of them.
Mark and I both felt, one fall morning, that our respective front decks were a little worse for wear, and we needed to fix them up. A bet was placed, and the person to finish their deck last would refill the keg-erator of the winner with a beer of their choice. Handshake, nod, squint…let’s begin.
About 4 hours into my project, I’m feeling good, I’ve made most of the cuts on my table saw, got all the nails I’d need, and I’ve always loved the feel of a good hammering. I’m chugging away, and only when I stand up for a second to sip some water do I realize that Mark is sitting next to me with a backpack on and his iPad in his hand, researching beer. Astonished, I look at him and demand to know how he cheated for the win.
He calmly takes his corded circular saw out of the backpack, and cuts the last 10 planks in seconds, following my lines perfectly. He sits back down, and said nothing, the message was clear. If I had not needed to walk into and out of my garage to cut the other 60 or so planks of wood, I’d be finished.
4) Ask More People for Help than you need
I moved from Boston, MA to Boulder, CO in January 2011. Choosing to move was easy, my girlfriend and I love to hike, snowboard, and ride motorcycles, and there are few places in the country and beat Colorado in any of those categories.
We both have friends in Boulder, so we figure that we ask 4 or 5 to help unload the U-Haul and we’d supply some beer for the inaugural party to break the new house in. Hindsight being 20-20, I should have asked double the amount of people we actually needed.
There’s always something that gets in the way of one or two of the volunteer’s lives in the hours before you need them; it’s Murphy’s Law. So do yourself and the rest of your helpers a favor and over-invite. Need three people? Ask at least six.
Worst-case scenario, you get the amount of people you need. Best-case scenario, you just need a bit more beer.
I’ve done a lot of DIY in my day, in fact, the new house in Boulder needed about 120 hours of work that my girlfriend and I did ourselves, at nights and on the weekends. These are the tips and tricks that took me far too long to learn and respect. Do yourself a favor and learn from my mistakes.