Home Heating & Energy Costs

It’s January 9, 2023, and it’s cold here in California. Sure, it’s nothing compared to the freezing temperatures in other parts of the country, but still, it can get pretty chilly in the evening and early morning.

And as the temperature drops, my energy bill goes in the opposite direction.

On top of that, high inflation has made everything, including energy, even more expensive.

Despite having an energy-efficient gas furnace, using it to heat up a 1600-square-foot house still seems more expensive than it should be. Plus, even if heating the entire house was inexpensive, it seems wasteful since many parts of the house are not always actively used. Though I have a gas furnace, according to EnergySage, the average wattage of an electric furnace is 10,000 to 50,000 watts. For comparison, my space heater uses 1500 watts. That makes sense since it plugs into a 120V / 15A outlet, which can support a maximum of 1800 watts before tripping the circuit breaker. And for another comparison, I have an electric throw (62″ x 50″ Microplush Electric Throw Blanket Leopard/Black – Biddeford Blankets) that, according to the label, uses 130 watts. A king-size electric blanket will use up to 200 watts. Personally, I actually find the electric throw more comfortable than the space heater and central furnace when I’m stationary (watching a movie or sleeping).

Electric blanket130 – 200 watts
Space heater1500 – 1800 watts
Electric furnace10,000 to 50,000 watts

According to my PG&E bill, my electricity cost is

  • Off peak: $0.37460 / kWh (kilowatt hour)
  • Peak (4-9 PM): 0.39193 / kWh

Assuming I run a 200W electric blanket and an 1500W space heater for 3 hours a day during peak hours, I can find the cost for each using the formula:

W/1000*H*CPKWH

where

  • W = device watts
  • H = number of hours
  • CPKWH = cost per kWh (I’ll choose peak time)
DeviceMathCost/dayCost/month
Electric Blanket200/1000*3*0.39193$0.23$7
Space Heater1500/1000*3*0.39193$1.76$53

So, yeah, the electric blanket or throw is way cheaper!

Editing Home Improvement Videos

There are many different ways you can edit home improvement videos. Here are some:

Make a Video From Photos

This is pretty simple to do. You can just add a bunch of photos to the video track of your video editor, animate each photo (many video editors can do this automatically), add some music to the music/audio track, and render the video. The result can be pretty good but it doesn’t really give a sense of the amount of effort or process involved. Here’s an example clip.

Regular 1x Speed Video

If you have a short video, leaving the speed at normal 1x speed might be okay. But, if your video is long, people will get bored very quickly. Since most home improvement projects take longer than 30 seconds, I don’t recommend this option, unless you are maybe adding a voiceover that explains what you are doing in the video.

Fast Speed (Timelapse) Video

Another option is to just timelapse the entire video. Some home improvement projects can take all day. Many people, including myself, will just leave a camera somewhere that will take many still photos at a set interval to create a timelapse video. You can also record an entire day’s worth of video, which I’ve also done using a WyzeCam mounted on a wall. Timelapsing an entire video is as easy as speeding up the video clip. The downside is the audio is also sped up and often doesn’t sound good so you usually mute the audio and optionally add some background music. Here’s an example.

Mixed-Speed Video

Another option is to timelapse (speed up) certain parts of the video and leave the other parts at regular 1x speed. This is definitely more work but I personally find this better than just speeding up the entire video. However, I find the best effect is when the regular speed segments are ones that have a high volume, e.g. when you’re using a tool that makes a lot of noise (drilling, jackhammering, cutting, etc). Here’s an example.

I normally use Corel VideoStudio to edit videos but for this purpose, I find Shotcut to be easier to use. Shotcut, which is free, shows the waveform very clearly, runs faster and hasn’t crashed on me yet. The UI takes some getting used to but once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty simple to us. Here are the steps I follow in Shotcut to create this type of video:

  1. Open the original video in Shotcut
  2. Drag it from the player to the timeline
  3. Zoom in, if necessary, so that you can see the audio waveform
  4. Choose some or all segments where the waveform is high (high volume)
  5. Scrub the playhead until you find a segment where the waveform is high (high volume) and the segment is interesting to show at 1x speed
  6. Split the video at that playhead position.
  7. Move the playhead by where you want to end the segment. For 1x speed segments, I choose a duration of 1 second. You can advance the playhead by 1 second by going to “Player” > “Forward One Second”.
  8. Delete any segments you don’t want to keep (choose Ripple Delete to remove empty space as well)
  9. Click on a segment you want to speed up, click Properties, and change the speed. I choose 5x.
  10. Click the Export button, select “Timeline” in the From field, and click “Export File”.
I changed the speed of this segment to 5x.

Video Showing Only Selection of 1-second Segments

Another option is to create a video from a selection of 1-second segments. Some segments will probably have high volume, e.g. drilling, jackhammering, cutting, etc. , Others may not, e.g. lifting, cleaning, drawing lines, etc. Again, I find this much easier to do in Shotcut than in Corel VideoStudio. Here’s an example.

Here’s how I do it in Shotcut:

  1. Open the original video in Shotcut
  2. Drag it from the player to the timeline
  3. Zoom in, if necessary, so that you can see the audio waveform
  4. Scrub the playhead until you find an interesting segment
  5. Split the video at that position
  6. Move the playhead forward or backward by 1 second (“Player” > “Forward One Second” or “Backward One Second”.)
  7. Split the video again to create a one-second clip
  8. Repeat steps 4-7
  9. Delete all other segments (choose Ripple Delete to remove empty space as well)
  10. Click the Export button, select “Timeline” in the From field, and click “Export File”
I reduced this 3-minute long video to 3 seconds (each segment is 1-second long) where the volume was high.

Merging Clips

If you end up with a bunch of video clips that you want to merge and you don’t need to apply any transitions or effects, you can merge them almost instantly with LosslessCut.

Using Cypress Trees to Hide Ugly Views of Your Neighbors

One of my properties is in an HOA. Though many people dislike HOAs and having to pay a monthly HOA fee, one huge benefit of being in an HOA is you never have to deal with unsightly views from the street. If someone violates the CC&Rs, they are fined and forced to stop. This improves everyone’s curb appeal including the neighborhood as a whole. For me, and many others, that’s valuable. But, my other properties are not in an HOA. And, unfortunately, people have very different ideas of what looks good. One neighbor put down pavers himself but was either lazy or didn’t know how to do it right. As a result, the pavers are uneven and weeds are growing everywhere. Another neighbor beheaded their tree leaving a 5′-tall trunk in the middle of their front yard surrounded by probably one of the cheapest rocks you can find – gray gravel. This is bad, but it’s nothing compared to another property of mine where one immediate neighbor is a mechanic who works on cars in his driveway almost 24/7. The neighboring property is a triplex owned by a slumlord who doesn’t appear to care one bit that her ghetto tenants are destroying her property as long as she collects the very low rent that she can get. Their lawn is destroyed because sometimes they park their cars on it. Their garbage bins are always overflowing and are a fly magnet. And if that’s not enough, the other immediate neighbor covered their lawn that meets my property line with concrete and illegally parks a beat-up pickup truck on it. They also leave a grill, used car parts, engine oil, and various other garbage along their side of the property line. As a result, no matter how much I improve my property, being sandwiched between two ugly neighbors significantly ruins my property’s curb appeal. Reporting code violations to the City is useless as they never do anything. Putting up a fence helps but the municipal code limits how tall they can be. Fortunately, there is no height limit on trees as there are 2 and even 3-story-tall trees in nearby front yards. So, one solution I decided on to block the unsightly neighbors is by creating a fence made up of Cypress trees. These trees are super low maintenance, evergreen, the leaves don’t fall and create a mess that you have to clean up all the time, and they grow in a very predictable manner (straight up) so you don’t need to worry about stray branches hitting your eaves or roof.

I bought the 5-gallon trees from a nearby nursery for $75 each. In Spring, you can get them at Costco for $40. You can rent a flatbed pickup truck from the Home Depot for $19 for 75 minutes. These trucks are ideal because you can lower the tailgate and the sides as well, making the loading and unloading of trees, or anything for that matter, much easier.

Along the east-facing fence, I had to dig holes in a section where there was no concrete. Digging holes is a PITA for sure. But, using the right tools like a gas-powered auger makes it less of a PITA. In the photo below, I made a square hole by making 4 small holes at each corner using the auger, then another hole in the middle, and then removed the remaining dirt.

Along the west-facing fence, I had previously poured concrete so I had to cut squares in it for the trees to go in. After backfilling with dirt, I covered the dirt with cement board to be used as weed fabric (regular weed fabric is useless), and then poured a layer of ginger rock.

Here’s how the west side looks. The fence boards are red-stained and cost about $3 each from Home Depot. I ran a 1/2″-diameter tube from the back of the building for irrigation. Connected to that tube are smaller tubes for drip irrigation directly at the root of each tree. The photo below is from before the concrete was pressure washed.

Here’s how the east side looks. You can still see the junk cars next door but after these trees grow tall and thick, my tenants will be shielded from the unsightly views next door and the curb appeal will continue to improve and there will be a clear delineation between my property and the neighboring ugliness.

I continued the fence/tree design alone much of the east side to block as much of the neighbors as possible.

Within 5 years, the trees will be as tall as the 2-story buildings and have a much wider diameter.

So there you have it. One way to block trashy neighbors while not violating most municipal codes.

Different Ways to Prep a Concrete Floor to Accept Paint or Epoxy

Concrete in your home is everywhere. From your driveway, garage floor, patio, porch, and backyard, everyone has concrete. Unfortunately, concrete is porous and can easily get dirty. Oil, dirt, and stains from all sorts of things can permeate and discolor concrete seemingly permanently. Pressure washing concrete with a high-pressure washer won’t even remove the discoloration. To protect your concrete from stains, you’ll need to seal it. If your concrete is already ugly or if you want to change the way it looks, you’ll need to apply a coating on it, e.g. epoxy. But, in order for any coating to adhere and not peel off, you’ll need to prepare (prep) the surface very well. This is the most important step when renovating concrete. Do it right, and you’ll vastly improve and transform the look of your concrete and your home. Here’s an example before and after picture of a garage floor I renovated.

This is not the step where you want to be lackadaisical. Following are different ways you can prep your concrete surfaces.

Acid

You can pour acid on bare concrete and scrub it around. However, the chemicals are toxic, smelly, and harmful.

Floor Polisher with Diamabrush Concrete Prep Attachment

The concrete prep attachment is for etching bare concrete floors to prepare for adhesive coatings. This option is much better than using acid, IMHO. But, it’s a bit more expensive. I think I rented it for $140 for 4 hours from the Home Depot. It’s a bit tiring to use because the polisher likes to move in one direction so you need to force it to go in the other direction.

Floor polisher
Diamabrush concrete prep attachment

Make sure you choose the concrete prep attachment and not the coating removal attachment picture below. Both look similar but the latter is for removal of mastics, glue, adhesives, thinset epoxies and paint from interior concrete.

Diamabrush coating removal attachment

Angle Grinder with Concrete Grinder Attachment and Dush Shroud

Another option is to grind the concrete down. This, however, requires getting down on the ground and can take a long time. You’ll also need to use a shopvac to suction the dust as this will product a ton of dust. Concrete dust is harmful because it contains silica which can mess with your lungs. If you have a small area to grind or if you need to grind edges, this tool is handy.

Walk-Behind Concrete Grinder

This commercial-grade concrete grinder can be rented at the Home Depot. It grinds down concrete high spots, removes sealers and thin mil paints, removes mastics and preps floors to accept new coatings.

This tool should also be used with a concrete grinder dust vacuum.

Shot Blaster

This tool can be rented from Sunbelt Rentals for $270 / day. This tool works by blasting media (shot) at the concrete to scour the surface. This is one of the best ways to prepare concrete. However, what’s annoying about it is you have to periodically pick up the shot media that escapes the tool.

Dustless Blasting

You can hire a company, like this one in Stockton, California, to prep your concrete for you. This tool uses a combination of water and shot media.

Complete 2 BR, 1 BA Apartment Renovation & Kitchen Remodel

I just finished renovating an entire 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom apartment and totally remodeled the kitchen from a U layout to an L layout with an island. Here are some before and after pics and step-by-step pictures showing how I did it.









Here’s how I renovated the apartment step by step:

Removed all doors

The doors were all beat up so I replaced them with new ones.

Removed fixtures

Replaced all outlets with Decora outlets

For the kitchen and bathroom, use 20 amp outlets, otherwise, use 15 amp outlets.

Removed HVAC registers and grills

All HVAC registers were beat up so I replaced them all.

Removed all baseboard

To remove the baseboard, first, cut the caulk using a utility knife. You can also use an oscillating tool.

Then, I like to use a mallet and a special tool that makes it easy to pry the baseboard away from the wall. It has a large surface area to minimize damaging the wall as you pry the baseboard off.

Most of the time, you can reuse the baseboard. But in this case, mine was so beat up that it wasn’t worth it. Plus, for a rental property, it’s better to install a tile baseboard.

Ran new wiring for a ceiling fan

First, I made holes in the wall and ceiling between studs and joists using a 4″ hole saw. I then inspected the area behind the wall and ceiling to ensure no obstacles were present. It there were obstacles, I could easily patch the holes using the circular cutout pieces.

I then ran yellow romex wiring. Yellow wiring can support 20 amps. I could have used a higher gauge (thinner, lower 15 amp-rated) wire since this is for a ceiling fan in a bedroom.

Where the ceiling fan would go, I cut a rectangular piece of drywall using a small reciprocating saw. I could have used a jigsaw as well. The cut was made in such a way so that I could reuse the piece to patch the ceiling when done.

After installing a ceiling fan bracket between joists, I pulled the wiring to the bracket.

I then wired up the switch…

…and patched the ceiling using the existing drywall.

For the circular holes, I patched them using the circular drywall cuts created when making the holes. I screwed a piece of furring strip behind each hole as pictured.

And then screwed the circular drywall cuts to the furring strip.

Demolished the bathroom vanity

The vanity top was made of cultured marble. I just broke it into small pieces using a sledge hammer.

I then cut up the wood vanity using a reciprocating saw and a demolition blade.

I removed the caulk on the wall using a oscillating tool following by an orbital sander.

Patched holes in the wall and replaced damaged drywall

In the kids’ bedroom, there were many holes in the wall. Some parts of the wall were patched very poorly. I decided to a large section of drywall. I tried using a drywall cutout tool but it was very noisy and it was hard to cut a straight line.

I ended up just using a reciprocating saw and oscillating tool to cut the drywall.

I screwed in the drywall using drywall screws.

I put mesh tape along the edges of each piece of drywall. This helped hold the drywall mud in place where there were large gaps.

For the drywall mud, I used premixed joint compound so I didn’t have to mess with mixing powdered drywall with water.

I then used an orbital sander to smoothen the mud. This produced a lot of dust, but that was okay because I was going to remove the carpet and paint the walls afterward.

Demolished the kitchen

To demolish the old kitchen cabinets, I first unscrewed and removed each cabinet door.

I hated the old kitchen layout. The half wall and ceiling cabinets made the dining and kitchen areas very small.

The ceiling cabinets can easily be removed by unscrewing them from the ceiling and wall.

I used the backyard to temporarily store all the construction debris.

I removed the heavy marble countertop by breaking it up into small pieces using a sledge hammer.

You should definitely wear a full face mask when doing this to prevent small objects hitting your eyes or face.

Just for fun, I used my 24V electric chainsaw to cut up the base cabinets.

After unscrewing some screws that fastened the base cabinets to the wall, I was able to pull out the cabinets.

To remove the pony wall, I drilled a bunch of 4″ holes in it so I could see if there was anything dangerous behind it.

I was then able to demolish it.

The 24V electric chainsaw was handy for quickly cutting some thick pieces of wood.

For safety, I hammered down any nails that were sticking out.

The wall was soggy because there was a small leak that was never detected. I had to cut out the soggy drywall so I could replace it.

Demolished old tile

To remove the old floor tile, I used a jackhammer with a chisel bit. Since there had been a leak in the kitchen, the tiles were easy to remove.

In the living room, however, it was a little harder to remove the tiles.

In general, separating the tile from the floor was easy.

What was difficult was moving the broken tile outside because it was heavy.

I put the broken tile in bags out front.

I first tried removing the thinset mortar using a scraper attachment on my jackhammer. But, that proved slow and very tiring…

… so I rented a heavy duty jackhammer and cart. This was much easier but still a lot of work. Note to future self: don’t ever do this by yourself. Just pay someone to do it.

Painted the ceiling and walls

I used painter’s plastic to cover large areas like windows. It’s a very thin plastic.

I sprayed glue around the perimeter of the window.

And stuck the plastic to the wall.

I removed excess plastic by trimming it off with a utility knife. Make sure to use a new blade.

I could then just peel off the excess plastic.

I did the same to cover outlets and switches, although I alter realized it would’ve been easier to cover small areas using blue masking tape.

You can then trim the excess tape with a utility knife so when you’re done painting…

…you can just remove the tape.

To paint the walls and ceiling, I used the Graco Magnum X5 Airless Paint Sprayer. Setting it up and cleaning it up was a hassle, but once it was primed and ready to go, it worked very well and made painting very quick and easy with good, even results.

I first painted primer on the colored walls since the colors were dark. I painted two coats.

Try to move quickly to avoid runny paint.

Painting ceilings is easy with a paint sprayer like this.

Once the primer dried, I painted the whole apartment. A fresh coat of paint really does make a big difference by making the place look new and clean.

But spray paint particles can really get on your face and glasses.

Dirty walls suddenly look new again.

Painting ceilings would have really been hard without a paint sprayer.

Removed carpet

Using a utility knife, I cut the carpet in 2 or 3′ sections.

I then rolled it and the underlayment padding up and strapped it from unraveling using duct tape.

I then removed the tack strip along the perimeter since I was going to install tile over the concrete.

Husky contractor clean-up bags are great for disposing of construction debris.

Using an angle grinder, I trimmed any tacks/nails that were stuck in the concrete.

Here’s a close-up.

Replaced all multi-turn water valves with 1/4-turn ones

I hate multi-turn water valves. I paid a plumber to replace them with 1/4-turn valves.

Installed tile

I bought 12″x24″ large tiles.

I paid someone to install the tile. First, they removed the tile around the electric fireplace.

Then they put cement board around the firstplace as backing for the tile.

They scraped the floor to remove any uneven spots from thinset.

They mopped the floor to remove excess dust.

They mixed the thinset and troweled it on the floor before laying down the tile.

I later noticed they were using the wrong type of thinset so I had them use thinset for large format tile (LFT).

For some tile, they’d cut it using a manual tile cutter.

They used little red plastic things to ensure adjacent files were level with each other.

I chose a terracotta color for the fireplace surround tile.

They applied the grout.

Then wiped it off the tile itself.

And mopped off any excess grout.

Patched kitchen wall

Before installing the cabinets, I had to patch the wall where there had been a water leak. I marked the stud locations using a stud finder.

Using a level, I drew lines where the studs were.

Sometimes, I’d cut drywall using a jigsaw.

Other times, I’d cut it by first scoring it using a utility knife…

…snapping it…

…and scoring the other side.

It’s actually easier and creates a straight cut with no dust.

I had to screw in some 2x4s to existing studs so I’d have a frame to screw the drywall into.

I dry-fitted the cut drywall panels.

And occasionally I’d have to mark edges that didn’t fit…

…so I could trim them using a rasp.

I screwed the drywall into the studs using drywall screws such that the screw heads would be slightly recessed so they wouldn’t be seen after patching with drywall mud.

I added mesh tape along all seams/joints to hold drywall mud (joint compound).

Then I applied joint compound.

Rerouted kitchen exhaust

I had to cut open the ceiling and reroute the exhaust vent.

I removed the old rigid vent.

And installed a flexible vent.

The exhaust went was moved to the wall above where the range would be.

Installed IKEA kitchen cabinets

IKEA delivered the kitchen cabinets.

To install the wall cabinets, we had to fasten metal brackets to the wall, sometimes using drywall anchors. We also had to cut some of the brackets using an angle grinder.

IKEA cabinets come flat-packed and must be assembled.

Fastening wall cabinets to the wall is easy because you can hang them on the bracket and adjust their position before finalizing where they’d go.

The base (floor) cabinets/drawers come with short plastic legs. This is good so that if the floor is wet, the wooden cabinets wouldn’t get wet.

I decided to run additional wiring to a new switch to control a new ceiling fan I planned to put in the kitchen.

We cut a hole in one of the wall cabinets where the exhaust vent would go.

All IKEA cabinet boxes are white. For end cabinets werhe a side will be exposed, we screwed a finished panel to the side.

We installed the over-the-range microwave.

And then attached the cabinet doors.

We screwed in the door handles and attached the kickboard.

Installed quartz kitchen countertop

For IKEA kitchen cabinets, I had to cut 3/4″ thick plywood to put on top of the base cabinets. For non-IKEA cabinets, you can use 1/2″ thick plywood.

I screwed the plywood in through the metal holes at the top of the cabinets.

I decided to buy a new range because the old was in very bad condition.

I bought the quartz countertop from Granite Expo and paid them to install it. In the picture below, they cut the quartz and sanded the edges.

Cutting quartz can produce a lot of dust.

The inside edges were also smoothened.

One guy cut a hole in the plywood for the sink. I decided to go with an undermount sink. The lip of the sink would sit on the plywood but below the countertop. The would ensure the sink would stay in place.

They also made a hole in the countertop for the sink. Like marble, quartz countertops are very heavy.

They put construction adhesive on the plywood before laying down the countertop.

The corner seam between the two adjacent countertop slabs was straight, not diagonal. Getting the two slabs to be perfectly level with each other was tricky. The guy screwed a screw up from under and through the plywood to push up areas of the countertop so it would be level with the adjacent slab. The other guy was applying silicone caulk around the inside edge of the sink.

One of the guys was smoothening and polishing one cut end of the backsplash.

They glued the backsplash to the wall.

They were nice enough to clean up after themselves.

Installed a new range

Unlike other appliances, I had to install the range plug by screwing it to specific terminals on the range.

I decided to replace the 220V outlet with a new one. I turned off the circuit breaker first.

Installed kitchen sink plumbing

I first secured the sink to the countertop by turning a large plastic piece. No special tools were required.

I then screwed the hot (left) and cold (right) water supply lines to the new 1/4-turn valves.

I made a bead of plumber’s putty…

…and put it around the sink hole…

…and then put the sink strainer on it. The plumber’s putty helps prevent leaks.

I then secured the sink strainer by screwing it to a complementary part underneath the sink.

The black PVC drain pipe stuck out too far so I cut it. After installing the garbage disposal, I applied PVC glue around the pipe…

…and inserted a threaded coupling to it.

I then connected the garbage disposal outlet to the drain inlet coming out of the wall. I hate fooling around with PVC so this time, I used flexible p-trap by SimpleDrain. It comes

It’s so much easier to install than PVC p-traps. Instead of screwing on flimsy PVC nuts, SimpleDrain uses an adjustable metal clamp.

This is what the old kitchen looked like.

And this is the new. One of the cabinets was missing when I took this photo. As you can see, remodeling the kitchen with a new layout really makes the kitchen feel bigger.

Replaced kitchen lights

I decided to replace the kitchen and dining room ceiling lights.

Installed bathroom vanity

I bought a gray vanity to match the gray kitchen cabinets. I had to assemble the vanity.

Without the countertop, it was lightweight.

It actually took a long time to assemble. After assembling the frame and installed the 2 doors, I had to assemble 4 drawers.

Once that was done, I could install the heavy countertop by first applying a bead of glue to the top perimeter of the vanity frame…

…and to the wall where the backsplash would go.

I like this countertop because the sink and backsplash are integrated making installation easier and minimizing leaks.

Repainted the ceiling and walls

So, I messed up. When I painted the ceiling and walls, I chose a color that looked good in a certain light but not in others. In the evening, and in soft white lighting (slightly yellow), the walls appeared to have a blueish hue to it. It made the rooms psychologically feel a bit cold and that drove me crazy. I decided to repaint the ceiling and walls. But, this time it was hard because I had to be careful not to get paint on the new tile and kitchen cabinets.

The new color I decided on was

  • Hazelnut Cream 750C-2 (Eggshell) from Behr (Home Depot)
  • This is equivalent to Lowe’s Valspar “Cream in my Coffee”.

This color is neutral and perfect.

I taped some masking paper to the top of the tile baseboard.

I covered the floor with a large drop cloth and covered the kitchen cabinets with large plastic and cardboard. Notice the difference in the ceiling color.

Preparation takes a long time but spray painting is quick and easy.

It’s hard not getting paint on yourself. My glasses and watch had many paint specks on them.

I then had to go back and paint some missed areas.

It’s always satisfying, though, to remove masking tape to reveal the finished product (as long as the masking tape doesn’t rip and can easily be pulled off).

I was too lazy to texture part of the wall above the backsplash. It’s not that noticeable though.

Installed new ceiling fans

Now that I was really done painting the walls and ceiling, I installed the ceiling fans in each bedroom.

Yay! It works 🙂

Painted the garage walls

I had unpainted garage walls. The builder would just install drywall and patch holes but that’s it. I ended up painting the walls plain white (the color of primer).

I hate painting ceilings.

Having an extension pole allowed to reach high areas.

Resurfaced the garage floor

The garage floor was heavily discolored and looked dirty. There were all sorts of stains. To beautify it, I first sprayed water on it.

Then, I used a orbital floor polisher tool with a floor prep attachment. This attachment has a bunch of very coarse tabs like rough sandpaper. It etches the surface and scratches the hell out of it. The tool tends to want to move to the right all the time so you need to force it to stay put or go left. It’s way better than using chemicals like muriatic acid.

When I was done etching the garage floor, I pressure washed it and let it dry overnight.

The next day, I applied 1-part epoxy along the perimeter. The specific epoxy I used was Behr 1 gal. Slate Gray Self-Priming 1-Part Epoxy Satin Interior/Exterior Concrete and Garage Floor Paint. We’ll see how long it holds up. Another option was to use Behr Granite Grip but that’s a lot more work to apply.

This epoxy is like a primer. When you roll it on, it easily covers up any discoloratino. Two coats may be needed. It’s very satisfying to easily transform an ugly garage floor into one that looks brand new. Plus, painting a floor is much easier than painting a wall or ceiling. The color of the epoxy looks almost like untinted concrete.

When the epoxy dried, I installed a LED shop light with motion detection.

In one of the other garages (the triplex has 3 garages), I tried applying Behr Granite Grip. Not only is Granite Grip more expensive, I had to use a texture sprayer connected to an air compressor to get good results.

I then had to use a texture roller to even out the material. The results were good but not worth the time, effort and cost for a rental property.

Resurfaced the backyard concrete

The tenants I kicked out had a dog they never cleaned up after. There was dog shit everywhere. When they left, they removed the large pieces but the concrete was still discolored by dog shit that baked in the Stockton, California sun and permeated into the porous concrete. This was brand new concrete that I had put in the year before. Pressure washing with a high-PSI commercial pressure washer was inadequate. I decide to apply the same treatment I applied to the heavily stained garage floor. In this photo, I was etching (scratching) the surface.

I then pressure washed the concrete.

After the concrete dried, I applied epoxy to the joints using a wide paint brush.

And then I rolled on epoxy to the rest of the concrete.

Landscaped the dirt by the fence

When I had the concrete put in, I didn’t want it to go all the way to the fence for drainage purposes. But, if you leave dirt along the fence, you’ll end up with a jungle of weeds, which is exactly what happened. To fix this, I first took used my jack hammer to break up concrete from old fence posts.

I bought a PVC pond liner, which is 14.5-mil thick, and cut it a little longer than some 8-foot-long 2x4s.

I stapled the liner to the 2×4.

I made some holes in the 2×4 and hammered in some long galvanized stakes to hold the wood in place along the edge of the concrete. The pond liner covers some of the dirt. Along the fence, I stapled some pond liner that also covered some of the dirt. In between and overlapping the two pond liner pieces, I put cement board. This will prevent weeds from growing while still allowing water to drain.

Finally, I powered 3/4″ ginger rock to keep everything in place and for aesthetics.

Disposed of all construction debris at the dump

To get rid of all construction debris, I cut up some things into small pieces and put all small garbage in clean-up bags.

I rented a box truck from Home Depot, loaded garbage into a 4-wheel cart, and used it to move junk to the truck.

The process worked very well. Luckily there was a ramp.

At the dump, I threw everything off the edge of the platform like the toilet…

…and the old doors.

Periodically, a huge bulldozer would come and push all the garbage away.

I had to clean the truck to avoid a cleaning fee.

Dumping the many bags of broke tile was extremely tiring. I’ll make sure to pay someone to do that next time.

I paid about $150 to the dump to dispose of a truck-load full of garbage and around $50 for the truck rental.

Assembling a 12′ x 14′ Gazebo

Costco had this 12’x14′ gazebo on sale from $2099 to $1699 if you buy it in store.

The assembly instructions say you need 4 people to assemble it.

It turns out, I was able to assemble it with just 2 people by using the Rockwell RK9034 JawStand XP Work Support Stand.

Assembling the posts and beams was easy but time-consuming. It took one day.

The hard part was assembling the roof. Half a day was spent screwing in the aluminum roof panels. Another half was spent raising the roof up and fastening everything together. In the picture below, we used the Jawstand to hold a 2×4 piece of wood which supported the center peak of the roof. The Jawstand made it easy to adjust the height of the 2×4 since the angle of the roof had to constantly be adjusted to get all 4 roof panels to fit right.

Here’s the end result. Two days. Two people.

Cable Management

I hate seeing lots of cables everywhere. In this post, I will list various options for managing and hiding cables.

Cord Covers / Cable Raceways

These are useful for hiding cables in a paintable conduit. The cable cover can be made of plastic or metal. Some have an adhesive backing and some you can screw to a wall. They come in various sizes and lengths and include various connectors. These are great for when you can’t hide cables behind or underneath something.

Cable Ties

Cable ties are great for holding multiple cables together. Usually, once you pull to tighten the cable tie, you can’t release it.

If you need to release a cable tie, you can buy the releasable type.

Cable Tie Base Mount

Cable ties will bundle cables together, but oftentimes you’ll need to attach them to a wall or something. You can buy cable ties with a screw hole.

However, you may have a hard time finding these with releasable cable ties. In that case, you can buy the base mounts themselves and insert releasable cable ties in them, or just use a twistie tie.

Cable box

Oftentimes, you’ll have an ugly power strip with a bunch of cables going to it. You can hide this ugliness in a cable box.

Cable Clips

If you need to clip some cables in a removable way, cable clips with adhesive backing can help with that.

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