Easily Tighten a Rope Without a Knot

When you need to tighten a rope to hold something in place, e.g. a tent, cargo in a pickup truck, a leaning tree, bed sheets, etc, you might think you’ll need to tie a knot. Not only is it difficult to tie a knot without losing tension in the rope, it’s a hassle and often difficult untying the knot. Ratchet straps are easier to use but are overkill for non-heavy duty situations. A simpler solution is to use a figure 9.

Here, I used a figure 9 to hold a leaning tree in place.

You can purchase Figure 9s at REI. One brand is Nite-ize but there’s also generic ones on Amazon for less.

This are two ways to tighten a rope using a Figure 9.

How to Finish Wood With a Protective Coat

I recently worked on a project to replace my stair’s handrails. I bought the unfinished handrails at Home Depot and then stained them easily as follows.

Applying Wood Stain

  1. Using a brush, applied one coat of Minwax Pre-stain Conditioner
  2. Using a brush, applied one coat Minwax Stain (Gunstock color). While the stain was wet, I wiped it with a paper towel to prevent some areas to be thicker or darker than others. Though wiping with a towel lightens the stain, it is an important step. To achieve darker stains, just repeat the staining and wiping process.

Note: Applying anything wet, e.g. stain, to wood will cause the grain to rise resulting in bumps. If, after the first coat of stain, you notice bumpiness, then sand it down with 220 grit sandpaper until the bumps are gone and then restain the wood. This first coat following by the sanding process serves as a sort of “primer” to prepare the surface.

The tricky part was getting the protective finish coat on. I wanted a shiny, smooth, glossy handrail. After trying different products and processes, here’s my advice.

Lacquer vs Polyurethane

Lacquer is sticky and seemingly more toxic. My eyes felt weird even though none of it gone in them. A bit of lacquer got on my hands and cleaning my hands were a hassle and temporarily messed up my skin. The fumes were so strong I could smell some of it in other rooms of my house. Cleaning the brush used to apply the lacquer was impossible so it had to be thrown away.

Polyurethane is also toxic but the water based kind is easy to clean by simply rinsing with water and it doesn’t smell as much. I was able to easily rinse my brush so I could reuse it for additional coats.

Conclusion: Don’t even bother with lacquer. Just stick with polyurethane.

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How to Enlarge a Hole in a Wall

The other day I was drilling a hole in a wall to run a 3-prong extension cord through. I thought a 1 inch spade bit would do to create 1 inch diameter hole. Unfortunately, the plug end of the cord was still too big to fit through the hole. I couldn’t enlarge the hole using a hole saw bit

because that requires some material for the center shaft to bite in to. 

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Remove DRM From eBooks (Kindle) and Convert to PDF

Having to read an ebook, e.g. a Kindle book, in a special app, e.g. the Kindle app, can be annoying, especially when you want to copy and paste lots of text. Also, sharing your book can’t easily be done. To fix this these issues, you can remove the DRM (digital rights management) copyright protection from the ebook and then convert the decrypted file to PDF.

Remove DRM from Kindle (azw) file

One program I’ve tried that works is Epubor Ultimate. The version I used was This initially didn’t work with the version of the Kindle for PC version I had installed but the customer support people at Epubor gave me a link to install an older version of Kindle for  PC (1.24.53) and that worked. I had to delete the Kindle book (azw) folder and then in the Kindle for PC program, redownload the ebook. Then, in Epubor Ultimate, I was able to remove DRM from the file.

Convert Kindle ebook (azw) to PDF

In Epubor Ultimate, I was able to easily convert the decrypted azw file to PDF. Now, I can read the ebook anywhere and easily copy and paste text.

Car Tire Specifications

When you buy new car tires, you’ll either go online and enter your car’s year, make, model, and trim or give that information to someone at a store. Unfortunately, the tire specifications you get in response will not necessarily be correct. For the past 13 years, I’ve been buying car tires for my 2003 Honda Accord DX and the tire specs I’d be given are

This information was taken from tires.costco.com and from the tire specialist’s computer at a Costco Tire Center. It says that my tire size is P215/60R17. The tire specs in the driver side door, however, says this:

It says that my tire size should be P205/65R15. While it may be okay to go with a slightly different size, it’s probably better to go with the manufacturer’s recommendation.

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When to Change Your Car’s Tires

Tread Depth

In the US, car tire tread depth is measured in 32nds of an inch. New tires typically come with 10/32” or 11/32” tread depths, and some truck, SUV and winter tires may have deeper tread depths than other models. A tire is legally worn-out if the tread depth is 2/32nds.  Therefore, a typical tire that starts with 10/32″ of original tread depth has only 8/32″ of usable tread depth. A tire that started with 10/32″ of original tread depth and has worn off 4/32″ (down to 6/32″ of remaining tread depth) is 50% worn. Though 2/32nds of tread depth is the legal minimum, you should change your tires when they reach 4/32nds of tread depth. At tread depths less than 4/32nds, you may experience hydroplaning when driving in the rain and lose control of your vehicle.

Tread Depth Gauge

There are manual and digital tread depth gauges. I’d go with a manual one so you don’t have to worry about replacing a battery.

Tips on Finding Eyeglass Frames You’ll Like

Searching for new eyeglass frames isn’t easy. There are so many brands and shapes and sizes. And even if you find one that fits your face, you may just find it uncomfortable to wear. Here are some tips to help minimize disappointment.

Eyeglass Frame Dimensions

On one side of eyeglass frames are some numbers.

These numbers are the

  • width of the lens opening
  • width of the bridge
  • length of the temple (side)

There is one more important dimension which unfortunately isn’t listed. It’s the height of the lens opening, which is prefixed with the left B.

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Print Poster Size Images Using a Home Printer

Recently I needed to print a poster size image using my home printer. I didn’t feel like slicing up the images into a bunch of tiles and figuring out which goes where. Here are a couple programs that will do this with ease:

Poster Printer by RonyaSoft

Easy Poster Printer by GD Soft