How To Add a 240V Electrical Circuit to Your Breaker Panel

The article is based on this YouTube video. These instructions are similar for adding 120 V circuits as well.

When you open the panel door, verify that you have empty slots to put a one-pole (120 V) or two-pole (240V) circuit breaker. If you don’t, you may need to upgrade your panel to a larger one.

Unscrew the screws and remove the panel cover.

You will usually see two large cables coming into the box.

  • One black wire = + 120
  • Other black wire = – 120
  • Voltage diff between the two = 240

The 2 black wires go into a main breaker.

In this example, the main breaker supports 125 amps.

The electricity then goes into the two left and right rails. Usually you’ll have some 120 V / 15 A circuit breakers for general power, 120 V / 20 A circuit breakers for kitchen and bathroom power, and 240 V / 20 A double circuit breakers for an electric dryer.

Electricity flows from the rail through the circuit breaker through the wire.

Everything in the box is hot until you turn off the main breaker. Once you turn off the main breaker, only the 2 black wires and the terminals they are connected to are still hot.

Parts Needed

Halex 3/4 in. Non-Metallic (NM) Twin-Screw Clamp Connectors (5-Pack)

Southwire (By-the-Foot) 6/3 Stranded Romex SIMpull CU NM-B W/G Wire

The max amperage that this cable supports is 55 amps.


50 Amp 2-Pole Circuit Breaker

Find the right kind that fits your circuit breaker box. My breaker box brand is Challenger. From the time when Challenger went out of business in the 90s, they were bought by different companies until Eaton/Cutler-Hammer finally got a hold of them. So, in my case, I can buy Eaton BR/C breakers.

The amperage of the circuit breaker must be less than or equal to the max amperage of the cable connected to it to prevent the cable from melting and causing a fire.

2-Gang 4 in. Square New Work Electrical Wall Box

Buy a deep box to accommodate the depth of the receptacle and have space for the 4 wires.

Legrand Pass & Seymour 50 Amp 125/250-Volt NEMA 14-50R Flush Mount Range/Dryer/EV Charger Power Outlet

The outlet will go in the middle of the electrical box.


Leviton White 2-Gang Single Outlet Wall Plate (1-Pack)

Decide where you want the new cable to come into the breaker box and punch out a hole at that location.

You can use a hammer to push the cable clamp into the hole you just made.

If you will run your cable behind the wall, make a hole in each stud using a ¾” spade bit for the cable to go through.

If you will run your cable on the wall, you can run it through metallic or non-metallic PVC (rigid and flexible)  electrical conduit.

JM eagle 3/4 in. x 10 ft. PVC Schedule 40 Conduit

You can then connect the cable to a surface-mount NEMA 14-50R power outlet.

Leviton 50 Amp Single Surface Mounted Single Outlet, Black

Run the cable through the stud and into the breaker box.

The cable can be hard to cut. If you can’t cut it with scissors or snips, you can use an angle grinder.

For ease of work, feed the thick wire into the electrical box before attaching box to stud.

Strip the wires in the cable.

Attach the wires to the outlet. The red and black hot wires are interchangeable.


And screw the outlet to the box.

Strip the wires on the other end of the cable. Make sure the main circuit breaker is off.

  1. Connect the white (neutral) wire to the neutral bar.
  2. Connect the bare copper (ground) wire to the ground bar.
  3. Connect the two hot (red and black) wires to the 240V circuit breaker.
  4. Insert the circuit breaker.
  5. Turn on the main breaker and then turn on the new 240 V circuit breaker.
  6. Test voltage
  7. Hot (red) to hot (black) should be about 240 V.
  • Hot (red) to neutral should be about 120 V.
  • Hot (black) to neutral should also be about 120 V.

Do the same voltage test at the receptacle.

You can buy this EV charger cable on Amazon for $330.

Morec EV Charger 32 Amp NEMA14-50 SAE J1772 ev Charging Cable Level 2 Portable Electric Vehicle Charger 220V-240V 26ft (7.9M), Compatible with Most Electric Vehicle Cars

SketchUp Tools For Drawing in 3D

The free version of SketchUp offers many tools for drawing in 3D.

Following is a list of them and how to use them.

Select Tool

Select items and objects in the model.

Tool Operation

  1. Click on an item or object.

Modifier Keys

  • Hold Ctrl = Add an item to the selection set.
  • Hold Shift = Add and/or subtract an item to/from the selection set.
  • Hold Shift+Ctrl = Subtract an item from a selection set.

Tips

  • Double-click a face to select the face and all of its edges.
  • Double-click an edge to select the edge and the faces that share it.
  • Triple-click an edge or face to select all connected items.
  • Double-click an object to edit it.
  • Ctrl+A = Select all visible items in the model.
  • Ctrl+T = Deselect all selected items in the model.

Lasso Tool

Make precise selections.

Tool Operation

  1. Click and drag to draw selection boundary.

Modifier Keys

  • Hold Ctrl = Add an item to the selection set.
  • Hold Shift = Add and/or subtract an item to/from the selection set.
  • Hold Shift+Ctrl = Subtract an item from a selection set.

Tips

  • Drag to the right to create a window selection that will capture items entirely within the selection boundary.
  • Drag to the left to create a crossing selection that will capture anything the selection boundary touches.
  • Make single-click selections just like the Select tool.

Eraser Tool

Erase entities.

Tool Operation

  1. Click on entity to erase. Alternatively, hold down mouse button drag over entities. All entities are erased when mouse button is released.

Modifier Keys

  • Ctrl = Toggle soften and smooth edges.
  • Alt = Toggle unsmooth edges and unhide edges and objects.
  • Shift = Toggle hide edges and objects.
  • Ctrl + Shift = Toggle deselect edges and objects selected by the eraser tool.

Paint Bucket Tool

Assign colors and materials to items and objects.

Tool Operation

  1. (Optional) Preselect the items or objects that you want to paint.
  2. Select a materials library using drop down list in Materials Browser.
  3. Select a material from materials library.
  4. Click on faces to paint.

Modifier Keys

  • Alt = Sample material for painting.
  • Shift = Toggle paint all faces with matching materials.
  • Ctrl = Toggle paint all connected faces with matching materials.
  • Shift + Ctrl = Toggle paint all faces on the same object with matching materials.

Line Tool

Draw edges or line entities.

Tool Operation

  1. Click to set the first point.
  2. Move cursor.
  3. Click to set the second point (creating an edge).
  4. (Optional) Move cursor.
  5. (Optional) Click to set a third point.
  6. (Optional) Repeat step 4-5 to create additional connected edges.

Modifier Keys

  • Alt = Cycle through linear inference options (All On; All Off; Parallel/Perpendicular Only).
  • Hold Shift = Lock Line tool to the current direction inference.
  • Arrow keys = Lock Line tool to specific inference direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel/Perpendicular).

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.
  • Once you’ve drawn a closed loop of at least 3 coplanar edges, a face will fill in automatically.

Freehand Tool

Create hand-drawn curve entities.

Tool Operation

  1. Click and drag to draw a freehand curve.

Modifier Keys

  • Ctrl = Decrease the segments of the last drawn freehand curve.
  • Alt = Increase the segments of the last drawn freehand curve.
  • Before an operation, use arrow keys to lock the drawing plane of a curve (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel/Perpendicular).

Tips

  • Segments may only be modified immediately after creating a curve.

Arc Tool

Draw Arc entities.

Tool Operation

  1. Click to set arc’s center. Optionally, click and drag first point to set drawing plane.
  2. Move cursor to define first arc point or enter radius.
  3. Click to set first arc point.
  4. Move cursor around the protractor guide or enter angle.
  5. Click to set second arc point.

Modifier Keys

  • Hold Shift = Lock current inference direction.
  • Arrow keys (before 1st click) = Lock protractor rotation axis direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel).
  • Arrow keys (after 1st click) = Lock drawing direction to specific inference direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel/Perpendicular).

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.
  • Click Window > Model Info > Units > Angle Units to change snapping angle.
  • Ctrl '+' or Ctrl '-'= Change the number of segments.

2-Point Arc Tool

Draw 2-Point Arc entities.

Tool Operation

  1. Click to set start point of arc.
  2. Click at ending point of arc or enter value.
  3. Click to set bulge distance or enter value to finish arc.

Tool Operation (Tangent Inference locked)

  1. Click to set start point of arc at an existing edge or vertex.
  2. Click an end point for arc, or enter value.

Modifier Keys

  • Alt = Lock tangent arc drawing.
  • Hold Shift = Lock current inference direction.
  • Arrow keys = Lock drawing direction to specific inference direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel/Perpendicular).

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.
  • Ctrl '+' or Ctrl '-'= Change the number of segments.
  • When multiple edges intersect, define tangency by hovering over one of the edges before starting the arc.

3-Point Arc Tool

Draw 3-Point Arc entities.

Tool Operation

  1. Click to set start point of arc.
  2. Click to set second point. The arc will always go through this point.
  3. Click to finish the arc, or enter an angle to define arc’s section of a circle.

Tool Operation (Tangent Inference locked)

  1. Click to set start point of arc at an existing edge or vertex.
  2. Click an end point for arc, or enter value.

Modifier Keys

  • Alt = Lock tangent arc drawing.
  • Hold Shift = Lock current inference direction.
  • Arrow keys = Lock drawing direction to specific inference direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel/Perpendicular).

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.
  • Ctrl '+' or Ctrl '-'= Change the number of segments.
  • When multiple edges intersect, define tangency by hovering over one of the edges before starting the arc.

Pie Tool

Draw Pie entities.

Tool Operation

  1. Click to set pie’s center. Optionally, click and drag first point to set drawing plane.
  2. Move cursor to define first arc point or enter radius.
  3. Click to set first arc point.
  4. Move cursor around the protractor guide or enter angle.
  5. Click to set second arc point.

Modifier Keys

  • Hold Shift = Lock current inference direction.
  • Arrow keys (before 1st click) = Lock protractor rotation axis direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel).
  • Arrow keys (after 1st click) = Lock drawing direction to specific inference direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel/Perpendicular).

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.
  • Click Window > Model Info > Units > Angle Units to change snapping angle.
  • Ctrl '+' or Ctrl '-'= Change the number of segments.

Rectangle Tool

Draw rectangular face entities.

Tool Operation

  1. Click to set first corner.
  2. Move cursor diagonally.
  3. Click to set second corner.

Modifier Keys

  • Ctrl = Toggle drawing from center.
  • Hold Shift = Lock Rectangle to current drawing plane inference.
  • Arrow keys = Toggle lock drawing plane inference (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel).

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.
  • When drawing rectangles, you can specify length & width by separating the measurements with a comma. For example: to draw a two foot by four foot rectangle, you can enter 2', 4' into the measurement box. The order of the measurements matches the order of the axes (R, G, B). For example: Red, then Green; Red, then Blue; or Green, then Blue.

Rotated Rectangle Tool

Draw rectangular face entities.

Tool Operation

  1. Click to set first corner. Optionally, click and drag first point to set drawing plane.
  2. Move your cursor around the protractor to set the direction of the first edge.
  3. Click to set second corner.
  4. Move your cursor to set the length and angle of the second edge.
  5. Click to set third and final corner.

Modifier Keys

  • Hold Shift = Lock current inference direction.
  • Alt (after 1st click) = Lock drawing plane for first edge.
  • Alt (on a locked plane, after first click) = Set protractor baseline.
  • Alt (after 2nd click) = Set protractor baseline.
  • Arrow keys (before 1st click) = Lock protractor rotation axis direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel).
  • Arrow keys (after 1st click) = Lock drawing direction to specific inference direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel/Perpendicular).

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.

Circle Tool

Draw Circle entities.

Tool Operation

  1. Click to set center point.
  2. Move cursor away from center point to define radius.
  3. Click to finish circle.

Modifier Keys

  • Hold Shift = Lock current inference direction.
  • Arrow keys (before 1st click) = Lock surface normal (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel).
  • Arrow keys (after 1st click) = Lock drawing direction to specific inference direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel/Perpendicular).

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.
  • Ctrl '+' or Ctrl '-'= Change the number of segments.

Polygon Tool

Draw Polygon entities.

Tool Operation

  1. Click to set center point.
  2. Move cursor away from center point to define radius.
  3. Click to finish polygon.

Modifier Keys

  • Hold Shift = Lock current inference direction.
  • Ctrl = Toggle between inscribed and circumscribed radii of polygon.
  • Arrow keys (before 1st click) = Lock surface normal (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel).
  • Arrow keys (after 1st click) = Lock drawing direction to specific inference direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel/Perpendicular).

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.
  • Ctrl '+' or Ctrl '-'= Change the number of segments.

3D Text Tool

Push/Pull Tool

Push and pull face entities to add or subtract volume from your 3D models.

Tool Operation

  1. (Optional) Preselect the face that you want to push/pull.
  2. Click on a face to start push/pulling.
  3. Move cursor to push or pull face.
  4. Click to set face or enter distance.

Modifier Keys

  • Ctrl = Toggle create new starting face.
  • Alt = Toggle Stretch mode.

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation and clear selection.
  • When a face is pre-selected, you can click anywhere in the model to begin push/pulling it, and then click anywhere to set it down.
  • Double-click to repeat a Push/Pull distance, in the same direction.

Follow Me Tool

Extrude a face along a path.

Tool Operation (Nothing Pre-selected)

  1. Click the face of the profile that you want to extrude.
  2. Move cursor along the edge or edges that you want the profile to follow.
  3. Click to set the extrusion.

Tool Operation (Preselect Path)

  1. Use the Select tool to pre-select a continuous set of edges to define the path.
  2. (Alternatively) Pre-select a face to define the perimeter of the face as the path.
  3. Activate the Follow Me tool.
  4. Click the face of the profile that you want to extrude.

Modifier Keys

  • Alt = Use perimeter of face as the path.

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.

Offset Tool

Create copies of lines at a uniform distance from originals.

Tool Operation

  1. Click on a face.
  2. Move cursor.
  3. Click to finish offset operation.

Modifier Keys

  • Alt = Toggle allow/trim overlap.

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.

Outer Shell Tool

Combine all selected solid objects into a single solid object and remove interior items.

Tool Operation

  1. Select first solid object.
  2. Select second solid object.
  3. Select next solid object or press Esc to complete.

Move Tool

Move or copy entities, and/or rotate objects.

Tool Operation

  1. Click on an entity or object to pick it up.
  2. Move cursor to move entity or object to a new location.
  3. Click to set it down or enter a distance.

Modifier Keys

  • Ctrl = Cycle Move/Copy/Stamp.
  • Alt = Toggle Autofold mode (useful for overriding Move tool constraints); when hovered over an object, use Alt to cycle through grip types.
  • Shift = Lock Move to the current inference direction.
  • Arrow keys = Toggle lock inference direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel/Perpendicular).

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.
  • When items are pre-selected, you can click anywhere in the model to begin moving them, and then click anywhere to set them down. This is an effective way to move things precisely and/or align things to other things.
  • Click the red crosshairs that appear on the bounding box of an object to rotate that object.
  • After moving a copy, you can type a number followed by the X key and then press Enter to create an array of copies.

Rotate Tool

Rotate, stretch, distort, or copy items or objects along a rounded path.

Tool Operation

  1. (Optional) Preselect the items or objects you want to rotate.
  2. Click on an item or object to both make a selection and set the center point of rotation.
  3. Move cursor to indicate start point of rotation.
  4. Click to set starting point of rotation.
  5. Move cursor to indicate end point of rotation.
  6. Click to complete rotation, or enter angle in degrees.

Modifier Keys

  • Ctrl = Toggle rotate a copy.
  • Before first click, hold Shift to lock protractor inference.
  • Before first click, use arrow keys to toggle the protractor inference lock direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel).
  • After first click, use arrow keys to toggle rotation inference lock direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel/Perpendicular).

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.
  • During Step #2 of the tool operation steps above, you can click-drag the protractor along an edge or axis to set an axis of rotation.
  • After rotating a copy, you can type a number followed by the letter X and then press Enter to create a rotated array of copies.
  • When inputting rotation values into the Measurements box, you can enter either an angle of rotation, in degrees (for example 45 Enter),or a slope expressed as a rise:run architectural slope notation (for example 4:12 Enter).

Scale Tool

Resize or stretch items and objects.

Tool Operation

  1. (Optional) Preselect the items or objects you want to scale.
  2. Click on a face or object.
  3. Click on a Scale grip.
  4. Move cursor to resize or stretch item or object.
  5. Click to finish scaling item or object.

Modifier Keys

  • Ctrl = Toggle scale about center.
  • Shift = Toggle uniform scale.

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.
  • Click a corner grip for 3-way scale. Default = Uniform. Pressing Shift = Non-uniform.
  • Click a midline grip for 2-way scale. Default = Non-uniform. Pressing Shift = Uniform.
  • Click a center grip for 1-way scale. Default = Non-uniform. Pressing Shift = Uniform.
  • When scaling an item or object you have the option to enter either a scale factor (for example 2.5 Enter will make the things you’re scaling 250%, or two and a half times bigger), or you can simply input the size that you want the thing you’re scaling to be (for example, if scaling up along the blue axis direction, 6' Enter will make the selection six feet tall).

Tape Measure Tool

Measure distances, create guide lines, or scale a model.

Tool Operation

  1. Click at starting point of measurement.
  2. Move cursor.
  3. Click at ending point of measurement.

Modifier Keys

  • Ctrl = Toggle create guide lines.
  • Hold Shift = Lock Tape Measure to current inference direction.
  • Arrow keys = Lock Tape Measure to specific inference direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel/Perpendicular).

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.
  • After measuring from point to point, you can input a distance to scale/resize the model.
  • When in Create Guide mode, begin on an edge to create a guide of infinite length; begin on a point to create a guide of finite length.

Dimension Tool

Place Dimension entities.

Tool Operation

  1. Click at starting point of dimension.
  2. Move cursor.
  3. Click at ending point of dimension.
  4. Move cursor to pull out the dimension string.
  5. Click to set the dimension string.

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.

Text Tool

Create Text entities.

Tool Operation

  1. Click on an entity to indicate ending point of leader line (location where leader will point).
  2. Move cursor to position text.
  3. Click to place text.
  4. (Optional) Click in text box.
  5. (Optional) Enter text in text box.
  6. Click outside text box to complete operation.

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.

Section Plane Tool

Create section cuts through your model or objects.

Tool Operation

  1. Click on a face to create a section plane that is aligned to that face.

Modifier Keys

  • Hold Shift (before 1st click) = Lock section plane to current orientation.
  • Arrow keys = Toggle lock section plane orientation (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel).

Tips

  • It’s possible to activate multiple section planes at the same time, as long as the section planes are in different contexts. For example, you can activate one section plane through the model, and then activate another section plane through a group or component object and have both planes active at the same time.

Protractor Tool

Measure angles and create angled guide line entities.

Tool Operation

  1. Place protractor’s center at vertex of angle.
  2. Click to set vertex. (Alternatively: click and drag first point to set rotation plane.)
  3. Move cursor in circle until touching start of angle.
  4. Click to set start of angle.
  5. Move cursor in circle until touching end of angle.
  6. Click to measure angle.

Modifier Keys

  • Ctrl = Toggle create guide lines.
  • Before first click, hold Shift to lock protractor inference.
  • Before first click, use arrow keys to toggle the protractor inference lock direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel).
  • After first click, use arrow keys to toggle rotation inference lock direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel/Perpendicular).

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.
  • When inputting rotation values into the Measurements box, you can enter either an angle of rotation, in degrees (for example 45 Enter ), or a slope expressed as a rise:run architectural slope notation (for example 4:12 Enter).

Axes Tool

Move or reorient drawing axes.

Tool Operation

  1. Click to set axis origin.
  2. Move cursor to locate direction for the red axis.
  3. Click to set the red axis.
  4. Move cursor to locate direction for the green axis.
  5. Click to set the green axis.

Modifier Keys

  • Alt = Alternate axis orientation (after clicking to set the origin).

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.

Tag Tool

Apply tags to objects.

Tool Operation

  1. Select a single tag in the Tags panel.
  2. Click on an item or object to assign the selected tag.

Modifier Keys

  • Alt = Sample the assigned tag from an object or item.
  • Ctrl = Apply a tag to all instances of a component.
  • Shift = Replace the current tag of all items in a given context with the selected tag.

Tips

  • Before tagging edges and faces, consider creating groups or components, and then tag the group or component instead.
  • Use ‘Select > All with Tag’ in the right-click context menu to select all items in a given context that share the same tag.
  • Color by Tag can be a useful way to identify which tags have been assigned to which items.

Walk Tool

Walk through (tour) a model.

Tool Operation

  1. Click and drag the cursor: Up = Walk forward; Down = Walk backward; Left = Turn left; Right = Turn right.

Modifier Keys

  • Hold Shift = Float up instead of forward, or down instead of backward.
  • Hold Ctrl = Run instead of walk.
  • Hold Alt = Walk through things.

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.
  • The further you drag the cursor away from the start point (indicated by crosshairs), the faster you’ll walk.

Position Camera Tool

Position camera at a specific eye height.

Tool Operation

  1. Click anywhere in the model to place the camera. The camera will be positioned above the point where you click, at the eye height distance specified in the measurements box.
  2. (Optional) Click and drag from one point in the model to another point in the model to create a target camera. The point you drag from will be the exact location where the camera will be positioned, the point you drag to will establish the camera target.

Look Around Tool

Pivot camera from a stationary point.

Tool Operation

  1. Click and drag the cursor to pivot the camera (i.e. look around in the model).

Tips

  • Esc = Enable previously selected tool.

Orbit Tool

Orbit camera around model.

Tool Operation

  1. Click and drag cursor within the drawing area to orbit the camera.

Modifier Keys

  • Hold Shift = Pan tool.
  • Hold Ctrl = Suspend gravity (do not try to keep vertical edges up and down).

Tips

  • Esc = Enable previously selected tool.

Pan Tool

Move camera vertically or horizontally.

Tool Operation

  1. Click and drag cursor within the drawing area to pan the camera.

Tips

  • Esc = Enable previously selected tool.

Zoom Tool

Move camera in or out.

Tool Operation

  1. Click and drag cursor within the drawing area to zoom the camera.

Modifier Keys

  • Hold Shift = Change field of view degrees.

Tips

  • Esc = Enable previously selected tool.

Zoom Window Tool

Zoom in to a specific area of the model.

Tool Operation

  1. Click and drag the cursor across the items in the model that you want to zoom into.

Tips

  • Esc = Enable previously selected tool.

Angle Grinder Uses

An angle grinder is actually a very useful home improvement too. Below are some things you can do with an angle grinder.

Cleaning

  • Use a wire cup brush to remove rust and caked-on cement and dirt from tools.
  • Use a wire wheel to remove paint

Cut bars, rods and bolts

  • Use a metal cutoff wheel to cut bars, rods and bolts
  • Use a metal cutoff wheel to cut off frozen bolts or screws

Cut tile, stone and concrete

  • Use a diamond wheel to cut through tile

Restore cutting edges

  • Use a grinding wheel to sharpen dull blades

Cutting out old mortar

  • Use a diamond tuckpointing wheel to grind out old, loose mortar

Straighten a Fence Post Using a Ratchet Strap

One of my fence posts on a rental property was leaning over due to the previous owner not securing it correctly in the ground. To make matters worse, I use the fence post to secure a ratchet strap attached to one of 4 corners of a sun shade. Since I didn’t feel like redoing the fence post, and since the back of my property is empty, government land beside a slough, I decided to just pull the fence post back into position using a ratchet strap. It was quick and easy and worked perfectly.

If you don’t feel like redoing a leaning fence post or need a temporary fix, here’s what you can do.

Materials

The steel stakes are actually designed for concrete forms.

Instructions

  1. Using a sledge hammer, hammer the steel stake into the ground
  2. Screw the piece of 2×4 into the steel stake
  3. Drill a hole through the 2×4 and secure the eye bolt to it

  1. Screw the anchor point to the fence post
  2. Use the ratchet strap as shown in the picture above to pull the fence post so that it’s straight

Easy Ways to Cut and Patch Drywall

Let’s say you want to install a bath exhaust fan in a bathroom that doesn’t have one. You’ll need to cut the wall or ceiling where the fan will go and you’ll also likely need to make holes in the wall or ceiling to run electrical wiring.

In the photo above, you can see that I made two types of openings:

  • Circular opening
  • Square opening

Making a Circular Opening

For the circular opening, I just used a hole saw attached to a drill. The benefit of this is it creates a clean, perfectly circular hole and you can reuse the cut drywall later to patch the hole. This type of hole can be made anywhere – it doesn’t need to be near or over a stud or joist.

Patching a Circular Opening

To patch a circular opening, I use a 1″x3″ piece of furring strip wood.

Drill a screw in the middle of the piece of furring strip and insert the wood into the hole as pictured below. Then, drill 2 screws while pulling the long center screw so that the wood doesn’t move around. Now you’ve created a backing for the drywall to be screwed in to.

Remove the center screw and screw the drywall into the wood.

Making a Square Opening

For the square opening, I like to use a reciprocating saw – specifically, the Milwaukee 12V mini cordless saw because it’s small and lightweight. Use a stud finder to find the studs or joists and draw an outline of the square you want to make such that the square (or rectangle) goes to each stud or joist. Then, try to make a clean rectangular cut so that you can reuse the drywall.

Patching a Square Opening

To patch a square opening, I use a 2×4 piece of wood to furr out the studs or joists to create a backing into which the drywall will be screwed. Pre-drive the screws into the wood a little bit and then clamp the wood to the joists to make fastening the wood piece easier.

How to Build a Fence Frame

I recently had to rebuild a bunch of fences on a new rental property. As you may already know, the hardest part is digging the holes and building the frame. This article explains step by step how to quickly and correctly build a fence frame.

1. Run string from one end of new fence to the other end near the ground

In order for the fence to be straight, we need to make a straight line from both ends. Since we haven’t dug holes yet, we put the string near the ground so we can mark where we want the holes for the fence posts to go.

2. Mark post hole locations

Depending on the existence of neighboring fences, we may or may not need posts at the ends. Mark where the post holes will go. Each fence panel between posts will be 8′ long. For marking the locations, you can you use a wood stake, metal stake, flag stake, or spray paint. I prefer using flag stakes.

3. Dig fence post holes

Post type

Normally people use 8′ long 4×4 pressure treated wood for fence posts. If you do that, then the horizontal 2x4s (rails) will have to be toenailed into it or secured using metal brackets.

Toenailing 2×4 rail to fence post
Fence rail bracket

Either way, that’s a lot of work, especially if you later decide to make adjustments. Also, the wood can rot and weaken over time. For these reasons, I just spend the extra money and buy steel fence posts.

The Postmaster 1-3/4 in. x 3-1/2 in. x 7-1/2 ft. Galvanized Steel Fence Post is $30 at Home Depot. These posts have holes along them for securing the rails.

Post hole diameter

The post hole diameter should be about 3 times the width of the post. Since the steel posts are 3.5″ wide, then the hole should be about 10.5″ in diameter.

Post hole depth

The post hole depth should be 1/3 to 1/2 the post height above the ground. Since we want our fence to be the standard 6′ tall, and the steel posts are 7.5′ long, we’ll make our holes 2.5′ deep.

Top of fence

The height of the fence post and the top rail above ground will be 5′. Therefore, the top one foot of the 6′ tall vertical fence boards will be above the top rail. The problem with this is that top one foot portion of the fence boards can warp.

To fix this, you can screw a horizontal piece of wood (2×3 or 2×4) at or near the top of the fence boards on the side where the fence rails are.

Soak the ground

Before digging holes. you’ll want to soak the ground, preferably overnight. This will make it much easier come time to dig. The deeper you dig, the harder the soil. One way to soak the hole locations is placing a tube for concrete where each hole would be. These tubes are 4 ‘ long so you can cut them in half.

To secure the tubes, you can dig a small hole first using a hand digger.

Or, you can just use a jack hammer with spade bit to make a circle the diameter of the tube. The tube would then be inserted into the circle.

With the tube in place, you can fill it with water and let it drain slowly directly where you want to dig holes.

Digging tool

To dig holes, the easiest and cleanest way is to use a gas-powered earth auger. You can rent one from the Home Depot ($55 for 4 hours). You can choose from a variety of auger bit diameters. Choose a 10″ or 12″ diameter auger bit.

When you are digging, if you can’t dig any deeper, then stop and pour water into the hole and let the water drain. You can then dig again.

You may run into roots and rocks while digging with the auger. In this case, you’ll need to cut the roots using a reciprocating saw or break up the rocks using a jack hammer.

4. Insert posts and secure rails

Now that you have 2.5′ deep holes, you can insert the steel posts in them and screw 3 horizontal pressure-treated 2×4 rails between the posts.

Picture showing 3 rails between posts

Since each hole diameter is about 10″ or 12″ in diameter, and each post is 3.5″ wide, you have room to move each post so that a standard 8′ long 2×4 will fit between each post. Screwing the 2x4s in place before pouring concrete helps ensure the posts are plumb.

5. Plumb and brace the posts

To ensure the fence is straight from one end to the other, tie a string at both the top and bottom of both end posts. Then adjust the position of each post in between and using a fence post level, check for plumb.

To hole the posts in place, brace them using stakes. I prefer hitting a 2′ long steel stake straight into the ground and then screwing piece of wood horizontally between the steel stake and the post. The steel stakes are pre-drilled. There should be two braces perpendicular to each other to hold the post plumb.

6. Pour concrete

Mixing concrete is a hassle and a mess. Instead of doing that, just use Quikrete 50 lb. Fast-Setting Concrete Mix which doesn’t require mixing.

Pour the dry concrete mix in the hole up to 3-4 inches below the ground. Then pour 1 gallon of water for every 50 lb of concrete mix. The mix will set hard in 20 to 40 minutes. If you are unsure if the concrete will completely mix with the water, you can divide the concrete and water in half and or a third and work progressively.

Wait about 4 hours continuing work on your fence.

Improve Internet / Wifi Throughout House Using Existing Coaxial Cable (MoCA)

So, in my 2 story house my internet modem is in the family room in the back of the house. The internet comes over coaxial cable by Comcast xFinity 1Gbps. There is a security camera at the front of the house facing the driveway. Every now and then, the security camera would go offline. To spread wifi all over the house, I have the tp-link deco M9 plus AC2200 mesh wifi router (3 wifi access points). The backhaul between access points is wifi, unfortunately. I can’t have a wired ethernet backhaul between access points because running ethernet cable would require opening up walls which is a lot of work. Fortunately, however, there is existing coaxial cabling throughout the house. So, I can use MoCA (Multimedia over Coax Alliance) adapters to bridge ethernet over coax so I can have a wired coax backhaul between access points. This allows the wifi signal at each access point to be much stronger than with a wifi backhaul. There are many diagrams and tutorials online but none that I found were clear enough hence this blog post. Below is my setup with a diagram which should make it clear what goes where.

https://motorolacable.com/mocawifi/

Now, if you don’t know whether some cables are connected or not, you can trace them using a continuity tester. I used the Klein Tools VDV512-101 Explorer 2 Coax Tester Kit, Includes Cable Tester / Wire Tracer / Coax Mapper with Remotes to Test up to 4 Locations ($27 on Amazon)

The continuity tester doesn’t work through splitters. Once you’ve tested all cables, you can label them in your junction box like I did below. As you can see, there is a 1 – 2 splitter where the one input is the coax cable from xfinity. The two outputs each go to the master bedroom and family room.

I added a new coax cable to go to the garage but it’s not connected in the picture because I need to add another splitter or replace the existing splitter with a 1-3 (or more) splitter. For MoCA to work, you need a splitter that

  • is not amplified
  • goes up to at least 1.5 Ghz (1500 Mhz)
GE Digital 4-Way Coaxial Cable Splitter, 2.5 GHz 5-2500 MHz

Before and After

Before

After

Powerline Adapters

You can also bridge ethernet over your home’s existing electrical wiring using Powerline adapters, e.g.

TP-Link AV600 Powerline Ethernet Adapter(TL-PA4010 KIT)

However, these adapters don’t work if there’s a surge suppressor. Also, there’s a lot more activity in your home electrical wiring that could interfere with the signal, e.g. from the refrigerator, hair dryers, air conditioners, washing machines, and other appliances.

Replace Ugly Grass With Concrete

At one of my rental properties, I had some really ugly grass on the on both sides of the property and a jungle of weeds in the back. The space was wasted because not could or wanted to use it.

The previous owners (investors) didn’t want to / know how to maintain the property so I was able to buy it from them at a discount.

I decided to replace most of the grass (weeds) with concrete indicated in neon green below. I wanted the grass at the remaining areas indicated in dark green to be removed at a depth of 3 inches to place 3/4″ Ginger rock / Sonoma Gold rock. I also wanted to plant ten 15 gallon Italian Cypress trees along the eastern fence.

Here’s how the project went from start to finish.

Day 1: Hauling and Dumping Garbage

Loading debris into trailer using a wheelbarrow
Cutting old fence with a chainsaw
Preparing to cover the trailer before going to the dump
On the way to the dump
At the Lovelace dump in Manteca

Day 2: Removing Grass and Dirt

Before removing grass and dirt
Removing grass and dirt
Removing grass and dirt
Moving grass and dirt to trailer
After removing grass and dirt
Loading dirt in the back of the house into a power wheelbarrow
Moving dirt from the back to the front
Moving dirt from the back to the front
Loading dirt into trailer
Loading dirt into trailer
Loading dirt into trailer

Day 3: Removing Grass, Dirt, and Old Concrete Slabs

Removing old concrete walkway
Loading trailer with pieces of old concrete

Day 4: Installing Wood Boundaries

Hammering in wood stake into ground

Day 5: Pouring and Spreading Gravel

Pouring gravel (side yard)
Spreading gravel (side yard)
After spreading gravel (side yard)
Dumping gravel (front yard)
Spreading gravel (front yard)

Day 6: Compacting Gravel and Installing Rebar and Weed Fabric

Compacting the gravel
The wood form in which the concrete will be poured
Laying down rebar (not done yet)
Added weed fabric under wood borders so that weeds won’t grow along perimeter of concrete slab

Day 7: Finishing Rebar Installation & Watering Yard

Installing rebar in the front yard
Installing rebar in the side yard
Watering the yard

Day 8: Pouring & Finishing Concrete

Garage Organization

Let’s face it. Garages have been storage spaces rather than places to park your car. Here’s one approach to organizing your garage so that you can still fit your car in it.

1. Build a shelf

You can buy shelving, including heavy duty restaurant-grade ones with wheels which are expensive, or you can just follow the instructions at this YouTube video on how to make a simple set of shelves out of 2x4s.

2. Buy transparent plastic containers

These clear boxes from IKEA are great. They’re also cheap. You don’t need to buy the lid.

3. Buy zip loc slider bags

Slider bags are better because they are more secure. I use a few different sizes.

2.5 gallon
1 gallon
1 quart
12″ x 12″ bag – 6 mil thickness

Available on Amazon

4″ x 6″ bags 4 mil thickness

Available on Amazon

3″ x 4″ bags

Available at Walmart

4. Buy twist ties

Twist ties are very useful for tying up cables. Available on Amazon.

5. Place related items together

For example, the picture below is of a bin labeled “Fasteners” which includes nails, screws, bolts, etc. Loose items are placed in appropriately-sized bags. Others are just placed directly in the bin unless their box or plastic container is mostly empty in which case I’d transfer the contents to a bag to not waste space.

In the photo below, the bin is label “Plumbing”. Not everything needs to be in a bag, like the PVC glue. Loose items or small parts that go together with larger parts are bagged so they don’t get lost.

6. Label bins

You can label bins using a label maker. I wanted larger labels so I printed category names on white paper, laminated it, and bolted it to the bins.

By now, your garage should feel a lot bigger and you won’t keep buying things you already have and you won’t spend forever looking for things.

UPDATE: July 29, 2021

Instead of laminating printed sheets of paper, I found a simpler, more flexible solution. Just buy clear sheet protectors for 3 ring binders. $5.00 on Amazon for thin ones. $20 on Amazon for thick, 5.5 mil vinyl ones (preferred). Just drill two holes in the plastic bins where the 2 outer sleeve holes are and fasten using a small bolt with a washer. Then, print your labels and insert them from the side.

Dwarf vs Regular Italian Cypress Trees

I’m bad with plants, and you probably are too. Whatever I plant just seems to die. And even with Home Depot’s 1 year return return policy, who’s gonna wanna dig up and return a plant with its roots and all and dirty up their car to take it to the Home Depot for $50.

There is one plant (or tree, actually) that anyone (in California) can plant without worry of it dying. This set-it-and-forget-it tree is the Italian Cypress. There are so many great things about this tree, it’s no wonder it adds value to your property.

  • Fast Growing
    Tall trees are expensive. You can buy this tree short and the regular Italian Cypress tree will grow up to 3 feet per year.
  • Very Hardy
    The Italian Cypress tree is hardy (will survive) down to 10° F. Obviously not a problem in California where it seems to just get hotter and hotter every year.
  • Drought Tolerant
    With increasing temperatures and less rain in California by the year, water is becoming less available and more expensive. Some locations may even prohibit watering your lawn or garden during certain periods. This is not a problem with the Italian Cypress tree. I stopped watering mine and they still look alive and green.
  • Evergreen, Non-deciduous
    The Italian Cypress tree is an evergreen tree meaning that it’s green forever (all year long). It is non-deciduous meaning that it doesn’t lose its leaves for part of the year. This is great because it’s low maintenance. My neighbor’s trees are deciduous and every winter, their leaves dirty up my front yard and I have to clean it up. With the Italian Cypress tree, there’s nothing to clean up and it looks alive all year long – no temporary death!
  • Fertilizer
    The Italian Cypress tree doesn’t even need fertilizer. Just dig a hole, put the tree ball in, back fill, give it some water, and you’re done.
  • Readily Available
    The Italian Cypress tree is readily available at the Home Depot all year long. It’s also available at Costco for about half the price but Costco only has it in early Spring 🙁

Most places sell the regular Italian Cypress tree but there’s also a dwarf version. Here are the specs for each.

Dwarf Italian CypressItalian Cypress
Botanical NameCupressus sempervirens CompactaCupressus sempervirens
Deer ResistantYesYes
Drought TolerantYesYes
Mature Height7-9 ft. in 10 years
25-30 ft. at maturity
35-40 ft. in 10 years or
Trim to Desired Height
Mature Width2 ft.5 ft.
SunlightFull SunFull Sun
Growth Rate:SlowFast
Grows Well In Zones:7-10 outdoors7-11 outdoors
HardyDown to 10° FDown to 10° F

Planting and Care for Dwarf Italian Cypress Trees

1. Planting: First, select a location with well-drained soil and full sun – any area with 6 to 8 hours of sunlight is ideal.

When you’re ready to plant, dig a hole that’s about one and a half to two times the size of your plant’s root ball, place the Dwarf Italian Cypress in the hole, back fill the soil and water to settle the roots.

2. Watering: Once established, your Dwarf Italian Cypress is moderately drought tolerant, but it’s important to have a regular watering schedule for the first couple of growing seasons. Water about once weekly or check the surrounding soil near your Cypress – if the surrounding soil is dry about 2 or 3 inches down, it’s time to water.

3. Fertilizing: Apply a well-balanced, general purpose fertilizer to your Dwarf Italian Cypress in early spring, before new growth begins.

Planting and Care for Regular Italian Cypress Trees

1. Planting: Italian Cypress Trees are drought tolerant and like to be on the dry side, so choose a location with full to partial sun (4 to 8 hours of sunlight daily) in well-drained soil.

Then, dig a hole that is just as deep but twice as wide as the root ball of the plant. Place the plant in the hole to check the depth. If the soil of the root ball is below the level of the soil of the surrounding ground, pick up the tree and add more soil to the hole. Fill in the hole with the same native soil you removed then water the tree by counting to 20 or by giving it five full watering cans full of water.

2. Watering: Irrigate your newly-planted tree twice a week for the first month, once a week for the next two months and every two weeks after the first three months. Water your Italian Cypress if you have warm, dry, and windy weather during the winter in your area.

3. Fertilizing: This tree isn’t fussy about soil. It grows equally well in clay, loam, or sandy soils. It also does not need routine fertilizing.

Pictures of Dwarf Italian Cypress Trees

Pictures of Regular Italian Cypress Trees