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      10.12.2009 15:03
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      The best alternative when your on a budget

      I sold my house a few months ago and was absolutely crushed to see it go. We bought our house in 2005 and moved in 2 weeks before Christmas. We bought it off a Housing Association who were selling off so much stock to purchase new properties - it had been rented out and to say it was inhabitable would be generous. It had nothing - it was a shell. We didn't have a penny to move in with and we got a little unsecured loan for about £6000 to do the house up - but on this limited budget we had to do it ourselves! Here's a brief overview of what we did and how:

      Lounge / Diner
      So the through lounge / diner had no carpet and orange wallpaper - along with orange gloss on all of the paintwork. It had yellow nets up at the window (assumed once white) and whoever had owned it previously had stencilled cartoon characters on top of the orange wallpaper.

      We enlisted the help of our friends and stripped the walls within half a day between about 6 of us - this was no mean feat, no wallpaper stripper - no gas or electric, no hot water! My hands were so sore and blistered after we scrubbed and scraped 3 layers of wallpaper off! But we did it, then using Sugar Soap (about a quid from a DIY store) we cleaned the walls down. Next we sanded the skirting boards and door / window frames down by hand - no power tools. I think the gloss had never been stripped back since the house had been built in 1920, so this again was pretty hard going. By midnight on our first day between 6 of us and with the help of next door running and extension through for a light, we had taken the whole room back to the wood, so to speak, and were ready to decorate the following day.

      The next morning the gas and electric suppliers came round and activated our prepay meters - hot water and light! Brilliant! We put up lining paper in the lounge which cost £1 per roll from a No Frills DIY store. We then glossed the skirting boards and then cleaned the rest of the house, stripping the wallpaper in the kitchen and two spare bedrooms (the master bedroom and hall stairs landing areas were just artexed, so there was nothing to strip). Day 3 we painted the lining paper in two coats of Colour Crazy paint - this cost £2.50 for the biggest size tub and dried super quick. A great tip is you can't have enough masking tape! It prevents you painting where you don't want!

      The carpet fitter came and laid a carpet, which we got from another town, ironically it was £50 cheaper than anything we could buy locally and delivery only cost a tenner! We got a cheap and nasty carpet - it was £180 to carpet a full 26 foot lounge / diner, but we got decent quality underlay and they Scotch Guarded the carpet for us for nothing, this was important as stupidly we chose a cream carpet! From Argos we bought furniture and we got buy one get one free on our sofas! It was all delivered together within a week.

      We went what we would call 'accessory shopping' to get some pictures / ornaments, etc and we went to Dunelm Mill and picked up 3 suede canvass squares - they were £30, I said I reckon I can make them for a third of that price. Beaded vases cost double the price of a plain vase and I nearly choked when I saw the price of curtains! So I went to a nearby fabric shop and bought squares of suede in different shades of brown and cream, I bought fabric and lining to make curtains and voile to dress the windows to replace the nets. I spent about £20. I bought some plain large vases from Asda and we went walking in the nearby woods and found some unusual shaped / formed twigs. Then I got some beads from the haberdashery and fed them on to wires and twisted them around the vases, peeled the bark from the twigs with a stanley blade and placed them in, and I used the left over beads and wire to make matching tie backs for the curtains. You don't need to be great with sewing either - I just hemmed the curtain material to the lining all the way around and then I made a biggish fold at the top and fed a curtain pole through! Easy peasy. With the left over material I made some cushions. I used the suede stretched over wooden frames and we hung the panels at different angles on the wall - in old houses make sure you check for wires using a wire detector - we bought one for £10. We bought a fire place from Wickes for £17 for both the surround and the hearth and then we had it varnished.

      So from nothing within about 10 days, we now had a carpeted / decorated lounge / diner, with a 4 chair dining table, 2 x 2 seater sofa's, a TV table, coffee table and CD cabinet, for less than £1500. My sister has just started decorating her home ready for Christmas (so about the same timescale as we had) and she has paid someone £500 for her bottom floor to be decorated only!

      Kitchen
      In the kitchen the walls were papered with purple textured paper, which we stripped while waiting for the lounge gloss to dry. The cupboards had been painted purple as had the light switch and they had all been adorned with silver swirl stickers. We peeled all of the stickers off, washed everywhere down with sugar soap to remove the ridiculous amount of crusted on grease, again put up lining paper and then we used kitchen and bathroom paint to paint it a neutral shade. Using the same kitchen and bathroom paint, but in a slightly different shade and a gloss version we painted over the cupboard doors and added basic handles which cost £1 each from No Frills DIY. We went to the Pound Shop and bought packs of sticky backed floor tiles which were so simply to put down I did it in about half a day! We then noticed B+Q had a 20% off weekend on boilers, so we bought a new one for £500 and had my partner's Uncle fit it as he is a registered plumber. I know not everyone knows a plumber, but you will know a mechanic or a hair dresser or a builder or an electrician or someone who can help you save money! We bought 2nd hand fridge, freezer, washing machine, oven and then Tesco Value toaster, kettle, microwave - making sure that everything was white - so it matched. In the end for £750 including a new boiler we had a fully functioning and beautiful kitchen.

      Garden (well Yard)
      We put down about 20 squares of decking straight on to the concrete - then we put down gravel which we had delivered by a local builder's yard and finally a bench which my Dad donated to us. We got some cheap plant pots and made a little pot garden with a couple of garden gnomes. And then we bought a terracota chiminea for £30 from Ebay. Using bricks and internet instructions we built a little BBQ, so our entertaining yard was ready!

      Throughout the rest of the house we did similar things:
      * stuck to buying value products
      * making our own soft furnishings, including duvet covers and pillowshams
      * using family photos as wall decorations rather than expensive pictures
      * we bought carpets from cheap stores and then used nice rugs from charity shops or ebay to make them look more fashionable and expensive
      * we used voile as window dressings rather than blinds (or nets) to make it cheap (and not look old fashioned)
      * we used similar colours throughout the house so left over paint could be used up
      * we used the internet and our local DIY store owner to get hints and tips - I even learnt to tile when I did the bathroom!

      All in all we furnished and decorated and DIY-ed our way through the whole 3 bedroom house for around £4000 which included carpeting or laminating every floor. Had we used a professional to do this work for us, that bill could have quadrupled. Everything you need to know is on the internet or can be freely obtained by asking people who have been there and done it before, not just parents, but the local hardware supplier, people at work, etc. People are always willing to lend power tools and normally lend a hand too, which is sometimes the most valuable help you can have! Good luck

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        09.03.2008 02:18
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        i get all the diy jobs now and actually manage quite well

        When me and my hubby fist met many years ago now his flat was decorated by his landlord in woodchip and painted magnolia, i dont like anything plain so i talked, or rather should i say pushed him into decoratin. It was only after i realised why he hadnt done it before, he was useless.

        We started on the hall, simple realy, or so i thought. I started on one wall and he started on another, i was half way down my wall and he was still working on the same small patch he had started with, when in asked him why he said that some idiot had put lots of sheets of brown paper on under the wall paper, when i looked the idiot was removing the plaster board one layer of paper at a time, i ended up stripping the room myself and fixing the mess he had made.

        Next to painting the ceiling, i left him to do this wholst i went to chose the wall paper, there was no way i was going to let him pick the paper as he is colour blind, heaven only knows what i would have ended up with.

        I returned from fetching the wall paper to find he had painted the ceiling, well done i thoght but i never asked you to pebble dash my floor aswell. Needless to say he has never been alowed near a paint brush again.

        Then came hanging the wall paper, i can do that bit he said, iv done loads of decorating before you know, i let him have a go and ended up doing it my self as he was butting the paper up to the ceiling and the skirting as we were having one paper on the top and another on the bottom, he wasnt over hanging the paper them trimming it down to size so there were gaps of different sizes where the paper didnt quite meet the ceiling, no word of a lie some of those gaps were more than an inch.

        This was the point where my other half got the sack from decorating for good and i did it all my self from then on in.

        When we got our first house the garden was a right mess, so i decided to replace the walls that held the dirt back on the garden from falling onto the patio as they had already half fallen down. Hubby was well convinced he knew how to build a wall and after all how hard could it be, its only like lego and surely he had lego as a kid. He put his first line of bricks in and all was going well untill i realised he was putting the bricks one on top of the other instead of staggering them, his answer, the other wall was built like that, yes and we all know why that fell down dont we. He got the sack from wall building too.

        No one would believe me if i told them my hubby has 11 gcse at grade c or above, someone forgot the comon sence im sure.

        Then came getting rid of the crazy paving, a lump hammer and a chisel and away i sent him after all how could he get this wrong, brut strength and breaking things was my hubbys speciality but i didnt expect him to break his wrist.
        Half an hour later, a bit of broken up concrete in the skip and hubby lets out one hell of a scream, the bloody idiot only missed the chisle and hit his wrist fracturing the scafoid bone and ended up in plaster, i finished the crazy paving myself with a little help from a friend.

        The next job i had lined up for hubby was cutting down the tree in our garden which was leaning very precariously towards my house, how hard could this be, i gave him an axe and left him to it, in the house he came hobbling not long after, he had managed to hit his shin with the axe, luckily it hadnt broken it but it cut quite badly. i mean realy was i ever going to find a job he could actually do.

        This tree stayed there precariously balanced for another winter and all its leaves blocked my guttering, i asked hubby to clean the guttering out and later found out he was scared of heights, he didnt tell me this untill he was at the top of the ladder and couldnt come back down, i had to call the fire brigade to get him down.

        Wel i think you get the gist of what i am saying anyway, my hubby is absolutley useless at anything that had to do with diy, his friends take the mickey out of him because i do it all and i think even hubby sees the funny side realy after all he brought me a cordless jcb drill for xmas this year, i mean realy most women get jewelery, i got a power tool.

        I sometimes wander if he realy cant do it or thinks if he does it badly enough i wont ask him to do it again.

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          06.03.2008 23:25
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          A great way to make your own things up but normally resulting in catastrophies for me!

          When it comes to DIY, I begin to cry. I just hate it and I make such a mess of everything I try to make or do! I am terrible at everything along the lines of painting, wallpapering and even putting together furniture with an instruction leaflet! I just can't hack it and I am sure most people can't. The thing is; I know what to do, but I just can't grapple actually doing it!

          There are several types of DIY that many people will take part in everyday:

          Painting
          Decorating
          Building

          Personally, painting is my worst job. We have a garden wall, which we wanted to paint in a creamy colour, so I took up the job. I thought it wouldn't take long and wouldn't be too hard - never think this when it comes to painting! This wall was terrible and had leaves stuck to it all over and trees right next to it. How on earth could I paint a wall with such conditions? You can't possible paint an outside garden wall (rough texture) perfectly and not getting any of the plants painted without spending days on it. Turns out that I made a right disaster of the wall and the garden! Half the plants got painted, but the wall did look good in the end. The bad thing was that there was a hell of a lot of rain recently before painting the wall, and it created a huge quick-sand patch in the garden! This one patch where we were TRYING to grow some plants was like quick-sand and my feet went in over a foot deep! The terrible bit was when I actually dropped a plastic container full of paint onto this mushy soil and made a right mess! I totally messed up the garden, but luckily the paint washed away. The surrounding area where I painted was in a terrible state, but at least the wall got done!

          Once I painted the floor in the lounge with a varnish. This was much easier apart from trying not to step in it! I did this to give it a glossy look as it was an old wooden floor. I didn't mind doing this for several reasons: It was inside and dry. I could watch TV whilst painting or listen to a music station and the atmosphere was pretty nice rather than getting trapped in quick-sand! This links onto decorating the lounge in general and other rooms. Decorating consists of painting but also generally decorating the place quite literally. Whether it is hanging paintings on the wall, stripping wallpaper and putting new strips on, it normally takes place when you first move into a house. I much prefer decorating as it is easier in general. I am not that bad at doing wallpaper. The hard bit is using that gooey stuff to chisel away all the old wallpaper, but once that is done, you are in for the easier bit! Sticking the new paper to the wall is pretty easy normally as long as you have a working bench to lay down paper and put glue on the back and stuff. I normally get the wallpaper on all lined up nicely.

          When it comes to building, I am not too bad. Building can be anything from building the new garden shed to putting a house together! I have built countless things such as a little hatch for my tortoise/lizards and many more things. Ikea seems to be the main store that sells DIY products such as desks, sofas and much more furniture. They sell some great things at good prices but most of them need putting together yourself! They will come flat-packed in a box and you will have to use the instructions and equipment given to make whatever it is. I am not bad at this as you are given instructions, so it isn't the end of the world! It's annoying when you put wrong screws in, so be careful with this and put it together strongly or it will fall apart!

          Overall, I kind of suck at DIY. Just take precautions for when you are going to DIY. Just remember to be careful and take your time when painting, and check the weather if it's outside painting! Decorating is not so bad, but take your time and precision makes perfect! Constructing is more fun and physical in a way, but it is important you put whatever you are making together very well, or it will collapse!

          GO DIY!

          Thanks for reading,

          - Recon -

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            01.02.2007 18:14
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            absolute bargain to ease burglary paranoia!!!!

            Sort of DIY, i decided to DIY the security in my house. My neighbour down the road had been burgled and installed a massive paranoia on me!

            So after looking at all the alarm companies who charge a fortune and don't really offer much apart from a loud bell on a wall. I found a really cheap product called Homesight by Motorola that at only £50 connects to your PC, comes with a camera and a sensor that i put on the dodgy downstairs window.

            But the really fab thing was, the site myhome247 who i bought off had online support and talked me through the whole computer set up and that's after one day delivery!!!!! But wait..... even better is that with a 3 month free trial i can get email alerts if anything goes off AND CAN LOOK AT MY HOUSE THROUGH MY MOBILE PHONE!! Tis amazing - as i only have an oldish samsung plus it's live video - i see the cat sleepin!!!

            Am only writing this review as i think the price is fabulous and has eased my paranoia tremendously!!!

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              18.04.2003 21:43
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              The Rapesco Master Nailer & STAPLER 191EL was a massive help to me when I had to achieve rather a lot of DIY work in a given time period. My daughter Roxanne was on a student exchange and the German student was due to stay with us soon. What made this more difficult was the fact that I am partially sighted, and using a hammer would have created even more work repairing where I attempted to hit a nail. A refurbishment of a bedroom and a bathroom to meet the deadline of very early April looked an impossible task. So to meet the needs of cladding walls and ceiling the nailer was purchased in February. It was the star, once I got used to the handling of the nailer, it cut down work times and I was able to carry out the work without much help. It put brads (nails) where I wanted them, and I used it to secure PVC cladding too. I only wish it was able to use it to tile the bathroom! It doesn?t so the wife did, BUT- Something went wrong. After stapling battens to a stud wall the tool refused to open for a reload, so I contacted Repesco online and asked for advice. They responded quickly and offered to replace the tool, which they did after a minor problem, which only cost time. The supplier Axminster Tool Centre was also very supportive and sent a pre-paid returns label, and I expected to have to deal through them but Rapesco were brilliant and deserve recognition of the wonderful customer service they provide I would recommend the nailer to anyone. At first it seems ungainly and difficult to hold but I think a novices inexperience with these sort of devices contribute to this, I practiced on scrap wood before using it in earnest, it is possible to place staples and nails into some of the most awkward places and can use staples up to 30mm and nails up to 35mm. There is a soft nose which when on the nailer prevents damage to delicate surfaces, this option was not in the original purchase, and perhaps it was old stock! I consid
              ered buying a air powered nailer but it would have been twice the price, and as I could only foresee it being used this project I decided to go for this electric powered machine. I am glad I did. The pack contained various sizes of nails and staples that get you started quickly, a good set of instructions and information help a great deal but nothing prepares you for the noise and power this machine makes when the trigger is pressed. A small see through panel lets you know when the nailer needs reloading, (in my case I got used to the sound) This is a simple task you load nails and tacks differently the easiest way to describe this is the nails are loaded pointing the machine slightly downwards and staples pointing the machine slightly upwards it will take up to 100 each load. So now I do not have the excuse that I can?t use a hammer, and a mitre saw makes cutting timber much easier and straighter, cordless screwdriver saves gouging the area around screws and patience keeping it on target, now for a talking tape measure.

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                19.11.2002 05:02
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                MALU I have taken up your challenge to write a 200 word opinion on something I wouldn?t write about. So, I thought why not paint since I have been using it lately. Here it goes; I thought I would write about Dulux paint, it's instrumental to any DIY enthusiasts out there and it's been used quite a lot in my houshold recently. Dulux paint is an excellent paint to use. It is easy to apply and all you need is one coat especially if you have nice smooth plastered walls. It will give you an extra glow to your walls as well as extra lightness that your room may have been lacking before. Your room looks much better after a coat of paint is applied. Available from most superstores and DIY stores like B&Q, Homebase you can buy a large tin of paint for £16.99 which should be enough to cover your walls. You may have seen the advert on TV about this product and on that ad it shows how easy and good Dulux is to use-----well that?s true because it is easy to apply, it doesn?t drip so it won?t cause a mess. You can apply with a paint brush or with a roll-on, either way the results are good. My personal preference is with a roll-on because it applies more evenly and is faster. Dulux paint dries amazingly quickly so you won?t have to worry about vacating the room all day so your clothes don?t get paint on since someone is bound to get paint on their clothes. There you go my 200 word opinion on Dulux paint I hope it?s been informative, actually I think I have covered all that needs to be said about this product.

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                  02.06.2002 14:04
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                  I wanted a chrome kitchen, and I wanted one real bad, and you know what happens when a woman gets that must have feeling that she just can't shake off don't you? Well, there's two opinions, book yourself into the nearest Betty Ford clinic or just go on and on until , in desperation a solution is worked out so your partner can A. Take the ear plugs out, and B.Walk in the kitchen without getting severe ear bashing of the moaning kind and the persecution ends.(lol, what me moan, never!) My Kitchen was only four years old, and there was no way we could afford a new one no matter what. The cupboard doors were swiss pear framed with a matt cream inset....nice but boring!! At first we thought about changing just the doors. You may have seen advertisments in your local newspaper. The guy came round pronto and measured up. He quoted £2,500 to replace just the doors, and not with stainless steel, that I longed for, but a wooden silver effect.The price included changing the handles, worktops,fitting and V.A.T. I picked myself up off the floor, thanked him for his time,bid him farewell and thought it was he who needed therepy, he must be on something, two and a half grand for that, I think not. So back to the drawing board. We then sprayed the doors silver, looked fab, but dried cack. Then it happened!,Ding, a flash of inspiration.'Lets fix stainless steel onto the doors ourselves'!. Found this company in the Yellow Pages, under Stainless Steel, Metal works etc, named the Metal Supermarket, based in Southampton. Gave him a call and was delighted with the price. £26.00 per metre, for brushed Stainless Steel!. We measured the insets of all the doors, and drawers, we have several large overhead cupboards,an equal number under the wortops, along with a few long thin cupboards and numerous drawers, in total, including cutting and V.A.T. the whole lot came to £160.00. We took one of ea
                  ch cupboards with us, so that they could check the measurements were right. This price also included a large splashback, and a piece to cover the front of the extractor fan. The work had been done and ready to collect in about three days. Off to Homebase for the worktops,£150.00, cut to size and shape, including the breakfast bar. A couple of tubes of No-Nails, some steel joint covers for the worktops and some new handles. It was just soooo easy to fix the Stainless steel to the wood,a few squirls of the good old No-Nails, and Bob's your uncle, did each one in a matter of minutes. The handles were equally easy. The worktops were only a little bit tricky to cut, my husband used his jigsaw to cut the holes we needed to slot the sink, and hob into.(For the total Dogs B******s look,We also bought a lovely linen effect, stainless steel, sink, Hob and Oven, thanks to a great deal at B&Q) It really does look fantastic, it looks like it cost about £5,000. Everyone who has seen it says, "Wow,I love your new kitchen, that must have cost you a fortune". We have also painted the walls, a pale lilac colour, trust me, it does look lovely, and compliments the Stainless Steel well. I am thrilled to bits with the new kitchen, and with a little bit of imagination, it just goes to show that the kitchen you really want doesn't have to cost the earth, it can be yours at a fraction of the cost, a couple of hundred as apose to a few or even sevral thousand. Hope you enjoyed the read and have picked up a few tips. Julie:) I wanted a chrome kitchen, and I wanted one real bad, and you know what happens when a woman gets that must have feeling that she just can't shake off don't you? Well, there's two opinions, book yourself into the nearest Betty Ford clinic or just go on and on until , in desperation a solution is worked out so your partner can A. Take the ear plugs out, and B.
                  Walk in the kitchen without getting severe ear bashing of the moaning kind and the persecution ends.(lol, what me moan, never!) My Kitchen was only four years old, and there was no way we could afford a new one no matter what. The cupboard doors were swiss pear framed with a matt cream inset....nice but boring!! At first we thought about changing just the doors. You may have seen advertisments in your local newspaper. The guy came round pronto and measured up. He quoted £2,500 to replace just the doors, and not with stainless steel, that I longed for, but a wooden silver effect.The price included changing the handles, worktops,fitting and V.A.T. I picked myself up off the floor, thanked him for his time,bid him farewell and thought it was he who needed therepy, he must be on something, two and a half grand for that, I think not. So back to the drawing board. We then sprayed the doors silver, looked fab, but dried cack. Then it happened!,Ding, a flash of inspiration.'Lets fix stainless steel onto the doors ourselves'!. Found this company in the Yellow Pages, under Stainless Steel, Metal works etc, named the Metal Supermarket, based in Southampton. Gave him a call and was delighted with the price. £26.00 per metre, for brushed Stainless Steel!. We measured the insets of all the doors, and drawers, we have several large overhead cupboards,an equal number under the wortops, along with a few long thin cupboards and numerous drawers, in total, including cutting and V.A.T. the whole lot came to £160.00. We took one of each cupboards with us, so that they could check the measurements were right. This price also included a large splashback, and a piece to cover the front of the extractor fan. The work had been done and ready to collect in about three days. Off to Homebase for the worktops,£150.00, cut to size and shape, including the breakfast bar. A couple of tubes of No-N
                  ails, some steel joint covers for the worktops and some new handles. It was just soooo easy to fix the Stainless steel to the wood,a few squirls of the good old No-Nails, and Bob's your uncle, did each one in a matter of minutes. The handles were equally easy. The worktops were only a little bit tricky to cut, my husband used his jigsaw to cut the holes we needed to slot the sink, and hob into.(For the total Dogs B******s look,We also bought a lovely linen effect, stainless steel, sink, Hob and Oven, thanks to a great deal at B&Q) It really does look fantastic, it looks like it cost about £5,000. Everyone who has seen it says, "Wow,I love your new kitchen, that must have cost you a fortune". We have also painted the walls, a pale lilac colour, trust me, it does look lovely, and compliments the Stainless Steel well. I am thrilled to bits with the new kitchen, and with a little bit of imagination, it just goes to show that the kitchen you really want doesn't have to cost the earth, it can be yours at a fraction of the cost, a couple of hundred as apose to a few or even sevral thousand. Hope you enjoyed the read and have picked up a few tips. ADAM B:)

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                    09.04.2002 05:59
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                    I am an artist. More particularly I am a sculptor and my favourite medium is wood. I love the feel of wood, whether knotted or sensually smooth to the fingertips. Wood has been alive and never really dies. The reality is that I have the dexterity of a club-footed llama and nobody would let me anywhere near a factory bench let alone a Blue Peter (here is one I made before) studio. I am a frustrated craftswoman who longs to create beautiful things from the simplicity that is natural wood. This was my minor tragedy until I inherited a nest of tables hand-made in Cairo. By the time they came to me the colour of the original wood was recognisable only in the depths of the outer carving and the scarred pale surfaces were deeply marked with black rings where glasses had stood. I put them out of sight under the stairs, but could not get them out of my mind. Their value was not great, I was not about to pay for restoration and it was not something I could do myself. Then, as is my way, I thought aloud, "Why not!" After all I could not damage them any more than they already were. I was about to find that those of us whose hands won't see the beauty that the mind and eye does in order to create, can re-create what someone else has. It comes a close second to the real thing. It takes only a little patience, very little money and the desire. The materials you will need are a few sheets of sandpaper, both medium and fine; white spirit or meths; some soft cloths; a soft bristle brush, wood dye and a clear varnish. I use Colron wood dye, made by Ronseal. This is water based and comes in a 250ml flat-sided tin which goes a long way. The colours range through many wood shades from oak, through walnut, pine, rosewood, teak and various shades of mahogany. I like Peruvian Mahogany as it is a little darker and without the usual red of mahogany. Using course sandpaper (this was before I had graduated to my sander), I
                    took the surface down to a smooth finish, taking out the scarring and rings. It is here that the white spirit or meths is vital. The sanded surface will still have on it some residue of the sanded wood. Wipe over with the spirit until the surface is completely clean. Then sand down with the fine paper, repeating the cleaning with the spirit. Once you are sure the surface is absolutely smooth and clean the next stage is the enjoyable part. Pour a little of the wood dye into a bowl and. using a soft cloth, wipe over the wood to be stained along the grain. You should only need one application. The dye will sink into the wood without hiding the grain. Leave to dry and then wipe off any excess. The transformation is a joy indeed. The next stage is necessary if you are restoring something which will have use. Another wipe over with spirit will take out any excess dye and remove any dust. Using your brush, preferably a soft brush specifically for wood, paint on a coat of clear varnish and leave to dry. If you feel you need another coat, sand down with fine paper between coats and treat as before with spirit. The result may well have the effect it had on me. I started looking for other things to restore. A small ancient child's chair varnished in black was found to be oak when I sanded it down. I coloured it with a light oak dye and no varnish and it graces one of my bedrooms. A friend showed me a battered old box about 12" long by 5" deep and I took it from her. A week later I returned to her a beautiful mahogany case with renewed brass hinges. The expression on her face was worth the small effort. My 8" window boards are peruvian mahogany with 2 coats of polyurethane varnish and are always shining whatever gets spilled on them. This is not so much DIY as an absorbing pastime. The original cost for materials when I started on the tables was less than a tenner. I was still left afterwards with sandpaper, spirit, varnish and woo
                    d dye for my next project. A tip to keep a valued brush in good condition is to rinse in fabric conditioner after cleaning.

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                      23.03.2002 06:40
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                      How would you like to be able to take a soothing bath with the soft whisper of your favourite relaxing music on in the background, or maybe take a shower first thing in the morning with the Radio one breakfast show pumping out and what about getting ready to go out on a Friday night having some top dance anthems pumping out in your bedroom and all from your PC. This is possible and very simple to do, let me explain what I’ve got in my house and what you can have. First of all I have 2 speakers in my bedroom (Stereo) 1 speaker (flush ceiling mounted mono) in my en-suite and 1 speaker in the bathroom (flush ceiling mounted mono) also the speakers on my TV in the living room are used. Ok so what can I do, well from the PC in the spare room I can select which speakers I want to send music to and because I have my HiFi linked in to the PC I can pick MP3 from the PC or Radio/CD/Vinyl or Tape from the HiFi The first thing you need to do is find where the speakers are plugged into the back of the PC, purchase a 1to2 adapter that will fit into the speaker socket on the PC and then when you refit the PC speaker plug you will still have a spare socket on the 2way adapter. Run a lead from the two way adapter with the opposite ends terminating in stereo phono points which can be connected into an Audio source selector (stereo not mono). This is no more than a small box with a rotary dial on it, which allows you to change where you want to send the signal. So once your cable from the speaker out point on your PC is connected to your source selector you can then run one set of phono leads to your HiFi and plug them into an auxiliary channel (by phono leads I mean the standard leads that inter-connect HiFi components and along with the source selector these can be brought from any good electronics outlet store, if your still not sure with leads you require just ask and explain what you are doing and the assistant should be able to help). Other outl
                      ets on the source selector can be used to send the signal down to your TV and if you have a TV card installed on your PC you could also send an S-Video cable down and by connecting both these leads into a scart adaptor you could then have winamp for instance pumping music and the visual effects through your TV at parties ETC. Anyway back to the speakers, once you have connected your source into your Hifi (this could just be an amp if all your music collection has been converted to MP3) you need to decide what size speakers you can have, in the case of my system it gave me a rating on the back of the amp of no more than 16 Ohms per channel so I fitted two speakers into my bedroom at 8 Ohms each this still gave me 8 Ohms available per channel so on the left channel I fitted an 8 Ohm speaker to the bathroom and did the same to the en-suite but connected it to the right channel. Note that I did not connect all the speaker cables directly into the Amp, I first fitted a 4way speaker selector switch so I could turn individual rooms on and off, if I had spent a bit more money I could have done this with volume controls fitted to each room then left all the speakers in the on position at the Amp and adjusted each room to my taste as I entered and left the room. So what’s the shopping list and how much did it all cost : Please understand that all these prices are estimates and the speakers will differ a lot depending how good a quality you go for. 1no 4way source selector £14.99 1no 4way speaker selector £19.99 1no 1to2 stereo jack plug £2.99 1no jack plug to phono lead £5.99 1no phono lead £5.99 100M Speaker cable £20.00 2no flush mounting speakers £60.00 2no box mounted speakers £60.00 This list does not include any additional cables for running to a TV on the ground floor and if this is not required then the source selector could be omitted and a direct connection made from PC to Amp. As fo
                      r running the cables around the house, the Amp sits next to the PC in the spare room so all the cables are behind my desk in a piece of 3”X3” cable management trunking, this can be purchased from most electrical wholesalers and has lots of elongated holes in it so you can enter and leave the trunking at anytime with your cables (it does keep everything neat and tidy behind your PC. All the speaker cables go into the loft I ran a piece of mini white trunking up in the corner of the bedroom to keep all the cables together and tidy then once in the roof I could run round to each room and speaker position. Before you go cutting big holes out in your ceiling make sure what is above and if there will be the clearance needed for the depth of any receded speakers, the standard box speakers in the bedroom are easier as you just need to make a small hole and poke the cable down and mount your speaker to the wall (try to get your speaker high up and this way no cable will be on show). The cables to my TV took a bit more work as they had to go through into my daughters room and then downstairs, I lifted the carpet back in each room and placed the cables just underneath, to get from one room to the next I drilled a 20mm hole in the corner of the floor of each room and fed the cables down one hole and back out the other (you may need two people for this) this way is only possible if the wall is studding and not solid passing from ground to first as you would need to nock a hole through the wall under the boards, or another route would need to be found. Once I was above the point I needed to be on the floor below I again drilled a 20mm hole in the floorboards and from below drilled a 20mm hole in the ceiling I was then able to pass the cables through the holes to the ground floor. It should be noted that the hole in the ceiling would need to be patched up after. The cables can then ether be cut into the wall and the plaster patched up as I did, this is fine if
                      you plan to decorate soon otherwise as a temporary or permanent measure mini trunking can be installed to hide the cables (mini trunking can be purchased from all good electrical wholesalers and look for the type with a sticky back as this prevents any drilling needing to be done. Please note that a certain amount of understanding is needed to do this and a total novice would be advised to get further help and advice before jamming cables into there PC or Amp I’m an electrical engineer and do this sort of thing for a living but I still spent a considerable amount of time working out what I needed and how I wanted it to work. If anyone interested in carrying this project out is in need of more advice then please feel free to email me and I’ll try to help as much as possible. The end result is worth the effort. UPDATE : 26.03.2002 Speaker cable, you can buy really expensive (oxygen free and gold plated etc etc)cable and if your budget will stretch to this then fine its your money. To be honest i just brought the standard speaker cable, the same as you have feeding your speakers on your HiFi and that works fine giving satisfactory sound reproduction. UPDATE : 31.03.2002 You must check the maximum size of your speakers that you can fit to your system, get this wrong and you could do serious damage. My Amp displayed the maximum output per channel on the back of the unit but it can also be found in your users manual in technical section. A channel refers to left or right speaker and it will be measured in Ohms, don't assume that if your Amp says 60W per channel you can put to 30W speakers on each channel. If your still not sure ring the manufacture up and enquire.

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                        07.03.2002 02:50
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                        Firstly before I get into the throws of writing, I apologise if this isn't strictly in the right section. Having recently put our house (our lovely home) up for sale, we had the unpleasant experience of looking at other peoples hell holes. How people can live in the kind of houses we have had the misfortune to visit is beyond me, but how they think they can obtain top market prices is beyond belief. My home is my pride and joy, it is immaculately presented, my husband (an ex painter and decorator) has a great idea for detail, colour and design. We are both very houseproud and have bought our children up to respect things. Some people either don't care or can't be bothered. How long does it take to run a hoover around if you are expecting potential buyers. These are some of things we have come across, which with a little time and effort (and in some cases a bit of money) could have made all the difference. The first thing you see when you arrive at a property is the front of the house, first impressions count don't they. Well obviously some people don't think they are important. At one property we were confronted with guttering hanging off the wall, rotting paintwork and what can only be described as a wilderness in the front garden. One stepping insidea house, you expect to feel something, welcome would be nice and safe would be even better. Think again, we have experienced germs, filth and grime and numerous houses that looked like jumble sale rooms. Smoke filled rooms, yellowing paintwork, grey net curtains, tide marks around the sink, toilet and bath, to name just a few. All of the above have been experienced in many properties, at one stage we got to thinking we would be better to stay where we are. How much does it cost to wash down paintwork, clean your kitchen and bathroom, wash your net curtains and generally make your house welcoming. A vase o
                        f flowers and a bit of aromatherapy oil in a burner can get ride of unpleasant odours like smoke and pets. I know that when you buy a house, you do exactly that, you don't buy all the filth, bad taste furniture, etc. But how can you feel enticed to buy something that is so uncared for. So if you intend to sell (or attempt to sell) your house in the near future invest in a little time and effort and maybe a spot of paint,etc. After all your house is for life not just for christmas and is most likely to be the biggest single investment you will ever make.

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                          13.02.2002 05:58
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                          How can anyone call this form of torture fun?? I have also to say that I am seldom ever able to Do It Myself….. build flat packs that is, or anything else D.I.Y. come to that. I am of the opinion that the companies that make these so called, “easy home assembly” packs have a very warped sense of humor. Either there are too many or too few screws, bolts, plug bits or boards, or the instructions are in a language only they understand. I get all overcome when I see that dreaded screwdriver sign next to a piece of furniture my family are looking at in the Argos book….. “Easy Home Assembly” my bum… "All you need is a screwdriver, hammer and a pair of pliers" OH YEA!! PLUS a bottle of Prozac or, better still, Scotch.... I can never understand the idea behind this format of home furniture, I can see it may well allow the manufacturer to mass produce, and save money on labor but not how it is for any convenience to the buyer. I remember the days we had the furniture delivered, fully assembled, by a couple of guys in a van, who normally moaned about the stairs, or size of doors, or the height… or anything really..lol.. I also remember paying far less than we do now. WHY is this no longer the norm.??? Is life so dull that we now need the therapy of opening that box of bits, trying to make head or tail of what the instructions mean, looking for that all important “part A”.. laying there among the pile of non marked planks of wood… do we really need to get all that anger out of us and release that sweat. Is it now a case that this is the only exercise many will get so lets make it compulsory?? I live by simple rules.. If I want bread I go to the bakers, if I want meat I go to the butchers and if I want my car fixed I go to the garage… Why then, if I want furniture would I go to a huge warehouse and a buy a box of bits, carry it home, despite the weight, and
                          then spend the next few days, swearing, sweating, throwing things around and calling the maker all manner of things?? Call me old fashioned but isn’t is far less stressful, and therefor healthy, to just go to the furniture shop, buy a ready built product that is delivered, and then sit there, glass in hand, admiring the new addition to the room??

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                            03.02.2002 01:35
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                            I have just bought a house and in the process inherited a horrible peach bathroom suite that we can not afford to replace. I decided to work around the colour, and make the suite look less noticeable. To start with I ripped up the black and white lino and the carpet that was underneath, only to find that someone has been peeing over the floor by the toilet which smells bad, so I ripped up the wooden floor panel and replaced it with a new one, which can be nailed or glued on. Next I set about transforming the colour of the magnolia walls, I have painted them a colour called spice rack by Crown (bathroom and kitchen paint) The colour is a light terracotta reddy colour, I then laid tile floor the colour is called soleil, it is a reddy terracotta and yellow (£18 a pack from Freemans catalogue) , I then replaced the light pull, toilet seat, bath panel and all other accesories with pine. I have put up 2 pine corner shelves that cost £3 in B&Q on the corner of the bath and a long shelf above the toilet that cost £4 from B&Q. And to finish it off I have put up a wicker blind that costs £28 on my window. By bathroom looks like it cost a lot of money to do but really it cost under £200, so it worked out much cheaper than ripping it all out and replacing it. And best of all, with all the nice colours you can barely notice the peach bathroom suite

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                              29.12.2001 17:40
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                              I wanted a chrome kitchen, and I wanted one real bad, and you know what happens when a woman gets that must have feeling that she just can't shake off don't you? Well, there's two opinions, book yourself into the nearest Betty Ford clinic or just go on and on until , in desperation a solution is worked out so your partner can A. Take the ear plugs out, and B.Walk in the kitchen without getting severe ear bashing of the moaning kind and the persecution ends.(lol, what me moan, never!) My Kitchen was only four years old, and there was no way we could afford a new one no matter what. The cupboard doors were swiss pear framed with a matt cream inset....nice but boring!! At first we thought about changing just the doors. You may have seen advertisments in your local newspaper. The guy came round pronto and measured up. He quoted £2,500 to replace just the doors, and not with stainless steel, that I longed for, but a wooden silver effect.The price included changing the handles, worktops,fitting and V.A.T. I picked myself up off the floor, thanked him for his time,bid him farewell and thought it was he who needed therepy, he must be on something, two and a half grand for that, I think not. So back to the drawing board. We then sprayed the doors silver, looked fab, but dried cack. Then it happened!,Ding, a flash of inspiration.'Lets fix stainless steel onto the doors ourselves'!. Found this company in the Yellow Pages, under Stainless Steel, Metal works etc, named the Metal Supermarket, based in Southampton. Gave him a call and was delighted with the price. £26.00 per metre, for brushed Stainless Steel!. We measured the insets of all the doors, and drawers, we have several large overhead cupboards,an equal number under the wortops, along with a few long thin cupboards and numerous drawers, in total, including cutting and V.A.T. the whole lot came to £160.00. We took one of each cupb
                              oards with us, so that they could check the measurements were right. This price also included a large splashback, and a piece to cover the front of the extractor fan. The work had been done and ready to collect in about three days. Off to Homebase for the worktops,£150.00, cut to size and shape, including the breakfast bar. A couple of tubes of No-Nails, some steel joint covers for the worktops and some new handles. It was just soooo easy to fix the Stainless steel to the wood,a few squirls of the good old No-Nails, and Bob's your uncle, did each one in a matter of minutes. The handles were equally easy. The worktops were only a little bit tricky to cut, my husband used his jigsaw to cut the holes we needed to slot the sink, and hob into.(For the total Dogs B******s look,We also bought a lovely linen effect, stainless steel, sink, Hob and Oven, thanks to a great deal at B&Q) It really does look fantastic, it looks like it cost about £5,000. Everyone who has seen it says, "Wow,I love your new kitchen, that must have cost you a fortune". We have also painted the walls, a pale lilac colour, trust me, it does look lovely, and compliments the Stainless Steel well. I am thrilled to bits with the new kitchen, and with a little bit of imagination, it just goes to show that the kitchen you really want doesn't have to cost the earth, it can be yours at a fraction of the cost, a couple of hundred as apose to a few or even sevral thousand. Hope you enjoyed the read and have picked up a few tips. Julie:)

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                                25.11.2001 20:07
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                                Having just used WD-40 to un-stick my jammed car door lock, I think it deserves a mention on dooyoo. Have you ever wondered why this lubricating substance in a squirty can is actually called "WD-40" ?? In 1953, a chemist called Norm Larsen was trying to produce a substance to prevent rust. He was working for a company called the Rocket Chemical Company, and they were trying to design a product for use in the aerospace industry. The principle on which they were basing their product was to displace water, thereby preventing corrosion. (Rust formation requires moisture AND air.) Eventually, Norm Larsen successfully produced the finished product that he had been striving for, but it had taken him forty attempts! And so was born WD-40........ Water Displacement at the 40th attempt! WD-40 was a success in the aerospace industry. It was soon realised that WD-40 could also be used effectively around the home, and in 1958 became available to the public on the shelves of some stores in San Diego, California, where the company was based. In 1969, the Rocket Chemical Company changed its name to that of its only product and became the WD-40 Company. Since then, they have gone on to develop several other products. The most common way that we buy WD-40 is in an aerosol can (the propellant in the aerosol is Carbon Dioxide), with a straw attachment. It is available in a variety of different sized cans. Approximate prices are: 200ml aerosol - £1.50 400ml aerosol - £2.50 600ml aerosol - £3.50 It is available from virtually all hardware stores such as Homebase, B&Q, Wickes, etc as well as many large supermarkets, and, of course, online at sites such as www.tooltastic.com. The straw attachment fits into the nozzle of the spray and allows for distribution of the WD-40 in hard to reach places, and also a more accurate application method. What are its uses? Well, WD-40 claims to have 5 basic functions: (the following is quoted from www.wd40.com) CLEANS: WD-40 gets under dirt, grime and grease to clean. It also dissolves adhesives, allowing easy removal of labels, tape and excess bonding material. DISPLACES MOISTURE: Because WD-40 displaces moisture, it quickly dries out electrical systems to eliminate moisture-induced short circuits. PENETRATES: WD-40 loosens rust-to-metal bonds and frees stuck, frozen or rusted metal parts. LUBRICATES: WD-40's lubricating ingredients are widely dispersed and tenaciously held to all moving parts. PROTECTS: WD-40 protects metal surfaces with corrosion-resistant ingredients to shield against moisture and other corrosive elements. (end quote) As mentioned at the start of this, I recently used it to unstick my jammed car door lock. I simply sprayed some WD-40 into the keyhole, as well as spraying some onto the end of my key. A little wiggling around later and my car lock was working as good as new. A huge relief as I thought I was going to be faced with a large bill for a replacement, or face having to climb over from the passenger side every day. I have also used it recently for: - to stop a door hinge from squeaking. - to fix a clock mechanism on my mother's carriage clock, which had stopped working despite new batteries. She had taken it to a watch repair shop and a jewellers, and both had said it couldn't be repaired and it needed to be sent back to the manufacturer. Along I came with my trusty can of WD-40 and gave it a squirt here and there and hey presto, one working carriage clock!!! There are many further uses - things you would never imagine, for example, removing chewing gum from carpet! You can join the WD-40 Fan Club at www.wd40.com and you will get access to a list of over 2000 uses!! Other benefits of joining the fan club include; wallpaper for your computer, a newsletter and a downloadable WD-40 Spray Game. All in all, thi
                                s is a wonderful product, inexpensive and versatile, and makes a valuable addition to anyone's toolbox, or cupboard.

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                                  24.11.2001 04:24
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                                  A few years ago we had double glazing fitted on all of our windows by Anglian.We had every window in the house double glazed, they did a good job and we got a decent price.No problem. Three months after Anglian did the job for us we got a cold call from the same sales office offering to sell us - double glazing. We gently pointed out that they'd already done all of the double glazing that a household could possibly want for us. Some years later we are still getting plagued by regular cold calls from this outfit trying to sell us more double glazing and related products - this despite numerous attempts to get our details taken off of their database. If any representative of Anglian reads this- STOP CALLING ME AND LEAVE ME ALONE!

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