Sanding is just part of the game when it comes to a lot of projects. Sometimes you can use a powered sander or a rotary tool with a sanding attachment. Other times you’ll just have to do it by hand. If you need to get the sandpaper into a thin spot, try wrapping it over the end of a putty knife. Then you can slide the knife, and the sandpaper, into the area and move it back and forth to do the sanding. The knife blade will act as a good backer to help you get the job done the way you want. Remember this little trick the next time you find yourself in this situation.


Q: We have an older kitchen with tile countertops. I know a lot of people don’t like tile, but I do – I love the color and look of the tiles. I want to find a good way to preserve the grout and the tiles. What tips do you have? – T.P.

A: You can seal the grout several ways. The best way to do it is to “paint” the sealer on to the grout. It is a tedious chore, but worth it. It should last for a long time as long as you don’t use abrasive cleaners on the grout. You even can get a sealer that has color so you can lighten the grout lines, if you want to.

Tips from readers

Dear Carrells: Our home is more than 20 years old, so I knew our water heater was living on borrowed time. When it started to leak, I couldn’t get a plumber out to replace it for several days, so I took matters into my own hands. I shut off the power and water for the water heater, and hooked a garden hose up to drain it outside. If I hadn’t done this, it just would have drained, and kept on draining, until the plumber showed up. – M.N.


Dear Al: I started noticing more and more popped nails in our lake house. Someone told me it was because of the weather this winter, but I’m not sure I believe that. Anyway, I bought a box of drywall screws and went around to all of the popped nails and installed screws just over or under each one. Then I took a nail set and drove the nails back down into place. I spread some drywall compound over all of the nail and screw heads, and touched it up with paint. Problem solved! – D.L.


Dear Kelly: We use Teflon tape to seal plumbing connections, so I know how well it works and how easy it is to use. As a crafter, I’m always looking at household products as options to use in crafting. I have started using this Teflon tape to seal up paint jars and cans. It works great. I also use it on glues, and it works even better. I’ve not had a stuck lid since I started using it! – A.D.


Dear Carrells: Our master bathroom is great. It’s very large, and we have plenty of room with our even larger walk-in closet. The only drawback is that it’s upstairs. My wife created a really nice little “coffee bar” in our bathroom. She took a corner of the counter and put the coffee pot, two cups and a bag of coffee on a large tray. Now we have our coffee upstairs each morning while we are dressing for work. Last week, I surprised her with a small refrigerator for Valentine’s Day. It’s in the closet, so it’s easy to access, and we can now have breakfast upstairs, too. – R.W.

A Super hint

We LOVE cable ties and use them for tons of things. One creative upgrade to the cable tie is the screw mount, which is sold to go with these. It attaches to the wall with a screw or nail and holds cable ties right where you need them.


When it’s time for a new circular saw, you need to take a look at Rockwell’s Compact Circular Saw. It weighs half as much as the older, large models, has a much thinner blade, cuts faster and cuts with only one hand holding it. If you’ve never used one of these smaller circ saws, you’re going to LOVE this! To find out more, go to to see it in action and find out about some of the other great features it has.