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Recycled bricks help renovations blend in with original house


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How To: Pick cordless power tools

When you use tools every day, you know the benefits of going cordless. But when it comes to finding the best, most powerful and technologically advanced cordless tools for the job, do you know what to look for?

“Safety, ergonomics and durability as well as battery charger technology and versatility are all key," says Terry Tuerk, product manager at Metabo USA -- a manufacturer of professional-grade portable electric power tools.

Here are some tips to help you find the best cordless tools:

- Pay attention to the latest technology. Lithium-ion batteries are lighter, deliver more power and last longer than older battery technology.

- When you're looking for the highest quality tools, check out your local tool distributors. You wouldn't go to the grocery store's freezer section for fresh vegetables, you would go to the local farmer's market. The same principle applies to tools. Shop where the experts shop.

- Handle the tools before purchasing them. Look for agile tools in compact sizes that fit better into tight spaces. A smaller size also reduces operator fatigue and achieves a better balance.

- The charger, and how quickly it works, are as important as the tool itself. Cell protection technology extends overall battery life and makes the battery last significantly longer between charges.

- Shop around for special features that best fit your needs. For example, some cordless drills have a removable chuck, exposing a recessed hex spindle that allows you to drive screws in tighter spaces.  Look for tools that have a built-in LED light for better visibility in low-light areas.

Keep the big picture in mind and calculate the return on your investment. When you purchase high-quality, professional-grade tools they may cost a bit more up front, but they last longer, perform better and are more powerful than typical consumer cordless tools. In most cases, the tools are also covered by long-term warranties.

-- ARA

Home-Selling Tip: Turn down the volume

When it's time to show your home, turn down the stereo or television. You might love heavy metal, but potential buyers might be turned off by a noisy showing.

-- RE/MAX

Did You Know …

Walls made from two layers of 1/2-inch or 5/8-inch gypsum wallboard are best at dampening vibrations generated by a washer or dryer. – Consumer Reports

Home Improvements: Before you build a deck …

- Know the terrain of your yard when planning a deck. Even small slopes could affect construction.

- Know your soil. Loose or silted soil might not fully support deck posts, and clay soil might require a drainage system.

- Consider the conditions: Take into account sun exposure, wind patterns, and even trees that will drop unwanted leaves or berries on your deck.

-- www.homedepot.com
 
Decorating Tip: Repurpose items to create new look

Cut back on spending with the addition of inexpensive or handmade decorative pieces.      

Look for branches that can be put in a vase, a painting from a garage sale or flea market, a beautiful fabric piece, or even a great piece of wallpaper that can be framed.

Find large pieces that make big statements. Light the art from the bottom with a small spotlight that can be tucked behind the piece, and let the art be the star of the room.

-- ARA

Garden Guide: Prevent late blight from killing veggies

Late blight, a serious plant disease that is caused by a highly infectious mold, has been affecting potatoes and tomatoes in some regions of the country.

Here are some ways you can keep the disease from spreading from your garden to commercial growers:

- Inspect plants for dark green or brown lesions, or white fuzzy mold. If you suspect blight, contact your state’s department of agriculture.

- If your plants are infected, dispose of them properly to prevent spores from spreading through the air. Plants should be placed in a plastic bag, sealed and discarded in the trash. Don’t compost the plants or leave them outside.

- Extension agents recommend fungicides containing chlorothalonil, although the products need to be used before symptoms appear and sprayed regularly.

-- University of Massachusetts Amherst Extension

Backyard Buddies: Bees beneficial to your backyard

Bees are great pollinators that help propagate fruits, vegetables and flowers. Most bees are not aggressive; here are some ways to encourage them in your backyard:

- The best flowers for bees are ones that are native to your area. Perennial wildflowers produce nutritious pollen and nectar, and don’t require harmful pesticides.

- Avoid using insecticides or pesticides.

- Build bee houses: Drill holes of varying sizes about 3 ½ inches deep into some scrap wood and hang the wood in a sheltered area.

-- sagebug.com, www.nwf.org

GateHouse News Service