HANDYMAN: Work Tips : Installing...

QUESTION: I know a wood floor can be installed over concrete because I have seen it on two occasions. In neither case was the owner of the house able to tell me how it had been done, since it was there when the houses were purchased. My plan is to put tongue-and-groove flooring over a concrete floor in what once was a garage. Can you at least give me a hint on how it is done?

ANSWER: A wood floor can be placed over concrete by first setting 2-by-4s into mastic spread on the concrete. There are two ways to do this. One is to place the mastic over the entire floor, in which case only about one-eighth of an inch is required. Or you can put mastic on the floor only where the 2-by-4s or screeds will be placed. The mastic then should be twice as thick. You will need 2-by-6s and 2-by-8s along the walls. The flooring is attached to the screeds after it has set thoroughly.

Shellac Stick Available for Fixing Furniture

Q: I read somewhere about a product called a shellac stick. If I recall rightly, it could be used for repairing scratches or other small furniture mars. Do you know if this is still available? My local hardware store says if there was such an item it probably isn't made any more. He says I must be thinking of wax sticks. Is he right?

A: No. There was--and is--such a thing as a shellac stick. It must be melted very carefully and requires a certain amount of expertise. Many professional wood finishers still use this shellac stick, but the wax stick is somewhat similar and easier to use.

Pros say the shellac stick is superior. Try the wax stick and see how you make out. If you are dissatisfied, try the shellac stick, being sure you get the alcohol lamp and whatever else is required to get good results. You probably can use a wax stick easily the first time out, whereas the shellac stick is something you have to learn how to use. Both come in a variety of colors to match the wood you are repairing.

Ripsaw Leaves Rough Edge, Needs Sanding

Q: I have worked with handsaws for many years but have never used a ripsaw, which I will have to do on an upcoming project. Anything I should know about using a ripsaw?

A: The technique is very much the same, except a ripsaw should be held at about a 60-degree angle, whereas a crosscut saw is held at a 45-degree angle. Remember to do the same thing you do with a crosscut saw, cut on the waste side of the cutting line. One thing you will notice. The cut with a ripsaw usually is a lot rougher than with a crosscut saw, so you will have to smooth the edges with sandpaper when you complete the cutting.

Avoid Extremes in Weather in Caulking

Q: We want to caulk the outside of our house. Is spring a good time to do this?

A: When caulking is required, any time is a good time to do it. When you have a choice, the fall is considered the proper time in areas where winter places a burden of some sort on the house. Proper caulking, for instance, can cut down on heating bills as well as permit air conditioning to work more efficiently. No matter when you do the caulking, it is best to avoid extremes of temperature.

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