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.

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

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.

Partially drill a long screw in the middle of a piece of furring strip that is about 3 inches longer than the diameter of the hole. 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 into.

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 fur out the studs or joists to create a backing for the drywall will be screwed into. 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. The 2×4 should be longer than the opening so you can position it such that the cut drywall will be level with the existing drywall when you go put it back in.

When you put the cut piece of drywall in the opening, if the four edges are not level with the four edges of the existing drywall, then you either must

For example, in the picture below, I folded the shims 3 times for a 3-layer thick shim.

If the edges aren’t level, the results will be very bad and you will have a hard time creating an imperceivable patch.

If you must eyeball the position of a 2×4, drill pilot holes first. If you don’t, the 2×4 would likely move a little when screwing a screw into it.

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.

Nylon Mason’s line is thin and can easily break. Instead, you can use paracord.

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 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,weaken, and become warped 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 the 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 by 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. Tie a string to both end posts

Now that you have 2.5′-deep holes, you can insert the steel posts at each end. Tie string or paracord from one end post to the other both near the bottom and top of each post. In the photo below, there are a total of 3 posts and 2 string lines connected to each end post.

5. Plumb and brace the posts

Adjust the position of each post using a fence post level and check for plumb.

To hold the posts in place, if the surrounding ground is dirt, brace them using stakes. I prefer hitting a 2′ long steel stake straight into the ground and then screwing a 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. Mix and pour concrete

Buy fence post concrete.

Pour half the bag of concrete in a 5-gallon bucket, add water, and mix using a special mixer for concrete.

The mixer I use is a 2-gear mixer shown below. The first / low gear is for mixing concrete. It has high torque and low speed which is what you want. If you use a high-speed mixer, the concrete mix gets everywhere, creates a mess, and can crack the bucket. I find this particular mixer to be perfect for mixing concrete.

The consistency of the mix should be watery but not too watery. You should be able to pour the concrete mix straight out of the bucket. If you can’t pour the concrete mix, then you need to add water.

7. Add concrete to the middle posts

Now that the 2 end posts are done, add concrete to the middle posts. If you haven’t braced the middle posts, that’s fine. Once you add some concrete, you can position the posts while the concrete is still wet. Make sure the middle posts touch the top and bottom string lines to ensure a straight fence.