What I’d Ask Santa for (if I were you)…

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It’s the final days before the big guy packs up his sleigh and starts delivering presents to all the good little girls and boys. You’ve been good this year, right? This year I’m asking Pretty Handsome Guy Santa for a few things, but these are the gifts that I’ve received in the past that are my absolute favorites. Feel free to share them with the “Santa” in your life. You can send him or her a link to this post and let them know which number(s) you want. We’ll just pretend it was their idea ;-).

For the Workshop:

1. The Makita 10-Inch Dual Slide Compound Miter Saw with Laser was my Mother’s Day gift one year and by far this is my baby in the workshop. After 5+ years it still cuts like butter and is the one tool I’d cry over if it was stolen.

2. A PORTER-CABLE Orbital Jig Saw - years ago, I was given a jigsaw for Christmas that just didn’t cut it. Literally, the blade would bend and refuse to cut through most wood. It felt like a toy tool compared to this MacDaddy. This jigsaw can cut through just about anything I put in its way!

3. The Black & Decker Folding Portable Work Bench was a gift from my father decades ago! It sat in a box waiting for me to open it for 3 years. When we finally moved into a home that had a workshop I opened it up and it has been my BFF ever since. It’s the perfect clamping station and is a portable spot to work on projects. I like to set it up in our driveway for sanding. It’s also the perfect height to help guide long lumber through the table saw.

4. Speaking of Table saws, if you own one, the GRR-RIPPER 3D Pushblocks are absolutely the safest way to push your wood through the saw. Hands down (pun intended) the GRR-RIPPERs have changed how I use my table saw for the better.

5. Dremel MM30 Multi-Max Oscillating Tool This little powerhouse is my desert island tool (well assuming I have access to electricity.) This is my favorite tool to grab for cutting and sanding. It was a life saver when I was renovating my kitchen. From cutting through nails to cutting notches in studs, this tool has the power and precision to cut through a multitude of materials. Plus, the detail sanding head is great for small sanding jobs. Grab this one quick, they are selling out on Amazon quickly!

6. Rockwell 3RILL 3-in-1 Impact Driver Despite it’s 12 volt battery, this impact driver, drill and driver is my go to drill. It packs a lot of power in a smaller drill that is easy to hold and fits in a woman’s hand. The lithium battery lasts and lasts. Finally, the quick release hex chuck holds tight to drill bits and driver bits. This is my little green machine.

7. HomeRight EZ Twist Paint Stick I’ve painted almost every room in both my homes. I had tried many painting gadgets and always returned to the original edger and roller I’ve owned for over a decade. But, all this changed this past year when I tried the HomeRight EZ Twist Paint Stick. It literally cut my painting time in half! Plus, it eliminates the hazard of stepping in the paint tray (which I’ve done too many times to count.)

8. 3M TEKK WorkTunes Hearing Protection These ear protection muffs make remembering to use them in the workshop easy. I love hooking up my iPhone to the WorkTunes to listen to podcasts or music while working. The only problem is that we only have one pair which leads to a few battles when Handsome Guy wants to use them while mowing the lawn and I want to use them at the same time.

9. 3M Tekk Lightweight Safety Glasses - Having protective gear that is comfortable to wear is important. These safety glasses are so lightweight and comfortable that I often forget I have them on. The clear sides give full peripheral views. They are inexpensive which makes them perfect for a stocking stuffer ;-).

10. Tomboy Tools Magnetic 13 oz. Hammer I rarely buy tools specifically made for women because they don’t normally live up to my tough standards. But, this hammer is an exception. The hammer is lightweight, but still strong enough to get me through framing walls in our kitchen. It is perfectly weighted and has a shock absorbing handle. The magnetic notch on the head allows you to rest the nail and set it with one swing over your head. Best of all, because of its color the guys won’t run off with it. And, it’s easily spotted on the job site.

11. Duluth Women’s Work Gloves - Finding work gloves that fit a smaller woman’s hand and don’t slip around are important to me. These work gloves fit like a…well…like a glove. They are padded for comfort and the fingertips are reinforced on all sides (the place most other gloves fail.)

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For Your Wardrobe:

1. Women’s Crosscut Performance Flannel Shirt - Have you ever wanted to spend the day in your pajamas because they are just so darn comfy? This flannel shirt is exactly like wearing your PJs all day! I own two of these crosscut flannel shirts now because I would wear them every day if I could. Recently I figured out how to dress up my flannel shirt for church.

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2. Plaid Military Cap This is my go to hat for bad hair days. The hat is lined with a satin lining and has a comfortable fit. I have a small head, so finding a hat that fits my youth sized noggin is huge! If you order this hat and you have a regular size head, order up a size.

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3. Buckle Payton Boot Stretch Jeans – Can we get a little personal here. I’m curvy, and I have a hard time finding jeans that a) won’t wear out in the thighs b) won’t ride so low they leave me with a muffin top. These are my favorite jeans. They look hip, but not too young. And I own two pairs that I wear almost daily. The price point is decent and they don’t accentuate my blogger butt. I’ve paid three times as much for a pair of jeans that ripped after only a year. When I die I want to be buried in these jeans!

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4. PHG “I Saw Too Much” T-shirt - This is by far my favorite shirt that I designed. The Alternative Apparel shirt is lightweight, but not at all flimsy. It’s definitely a flattering cut on a woman. The same graphic is also available on a mens’ shirt. Oh hey, look! I’m wearing my favorite hat, jeans and shirt all in one photo! I told you I love them.

I Saw Too Much funny DIY shirt | Pretty Handy Girl

5. Merrell Women’s Leather Encore Slip-On Shoe Life is too short to walk around in cute and uncomfortable shoes. If you can’t tell by now, I’m all about the comfort over fashion. I am also lazy and despise taking an extra few minutes each day to tie and untie sneakers. For that reason, these are my favorite shoes. They feel like slippers, but have non-slip soles and leather exteriors. Merrell makes several slip on shoes in the Encore line. It’s up to you which style you like best!

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For Your Picture Taking Abilities:

1. Canon EOS Rebel T5 SLR Digital Camera Pack If you are still holding out on buying an SLR camera, don’t wait another day. I have an older Canon T1 Rebel camera that I bought four years ago. It is amazing the difference it makes in my photography! Case in point. The picture on the left was taken with my point and shoot, and the right with my Canon Rebel T1 a few years later. The colors are more vibrant and the photo has a lot more depth. And the details are more crisp.

Boy's Red, White & Blue Themed Room | Pretty Handy Girl

AfterShot

The Canon T1 is no longer manufactured, but if you see a used one grab it! I have bumped my camera more times than I can count. (Hello, I’m a DIY tutorial blogger, it happens!) I have purchased a few lenses (a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 and aCanon EF-S 10-18mm Wide Angle Lens) for my camera but have kept the same body.

2. Lightscoop Standard Version Bounce Flash - If you are trying to save money on photography equipment consider buying a Lightscoop instead of a camera mounted bounce flash. This little gadget clips onto the shoe for your flash and simply reflects the flash light onto the ceiling (or wall if you have your camera pointed sideways. I still don’t own a bounce flash and use this little guy a lot!

3. Induro AKB1 Tripod Believe it or not, this three legged creature has saved many a rainy day photoshoot! Plus, it let’s me take better selfies. If you finally upgraded to a SLR camera, you really need a good tripod. Indoor photography is tough without one. This is the tool that lets you get beautiful pictures in darker settings without having to raise your ISO (which can result in grainy photographs.)

4. August Blossoms Camera Strap Technically this strap won’t improve your photography skills but it will safely hold your lens cap in the pocket and distinguish your camera from others that look the same. If you’ve ever been to a blogger event, a lot of us have the same camera. And personally, I think the cloth neck strap is a lot more comfortable on my neck.

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For a Better Night Sleep:

1. Savvy Rest Serenity Layered Latex Mattress If you’ve been an exceptionally good kid this year, why not ask for this mattress. You can tell Santa that you’ve reached the age where you need a good mattress that will last well into your retirement and beyond (20+ years.) We’ve been sleeping on our Savvy Rest mattress for a year now and I have to warn you that if you get one you won’t want to leave home anymore. I am so eager to get home and sleep in my own bed anytime I go away. I sleep much better and my hips and back thank me every morning.

A DIY Mattress?! How I Chose a Savvy Rest Mattress | Pretty Handy Girl

2. Talalay Latex Foam Pillow This is the same pillow I’ve had for over 15 years! You’d think a 15 year old pillow would look flat and shapeless. And it would, except this pillow is a latex foam pillow and has the exact same shape as the day I bought it. For what it’s worth, I’m a side/stomach sleeper.

 

For Helping You Wake Up:

1. Jonathan Adler On the Go Coffee Mug This is my absolute favorite coffee mug. It fits in any cup holder. It keeps my beverage warm for a while. The fitted lid means less spills. And let’s be honest, it looks stylish!

2. Hamilton Beach 2-Way FlexBrew Coffeemaker I call this the marriage saver because I really wanted a Keurig to make quick cups of coffee. But, Pretty Handsome Guy prefers to make a pot of coffee in the carafe. I like mild coffee and he likes high octane coffee! When I saw this baby, I bought it immediately and now our marriage is saved!

I hope you found something to ask Santa for. Or you saw something to get as a last minute gift!

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Disclosure: I was not compensated by any brands to write this post. These are my honest to goodness favorite things I own. In full disclosure, some of the links above are Amazon affiliate links.

WORX JawSaw Product Review

WORX JawSaw Review | PrettyHandyGirl

WORX JawSaw Review | PrettyHandyGirlWORX JawSaw Review | PrettyHandyGirl

A few months ago WORX sent me their WORX Lithium Cordless Chainsaw with Extension Pole for a product review. Our property is very wooded and we have so many trees that I’ve lost count. I do know that they need pruning and maintaining on a regular basis (at least every six months.) I knew our yard was a good test environment that would put the JawSaw through a rigorous test on our hardwoods and ornamental trees.

Recently one of our smaller trees died and needed to be removed. I charged up the JawSaw battery and snapped it in place after it was fully charged.

WORX JawSaw Review | PrettyHandyGirl

As is always the case, as I got closer, that little tree didn’t look so small. I honestly doubted I’d be able to use the JawSaw for this task. But, I was pleasantly surprised when the jaws fit around the trunk.

To work the JawSaw, you have to push the button with your thumb and pull the trigger at the same time. To start the saw moving, you push the handle in towards the shaft.

WORX JawSaw Review | PrettyHandyGirl

The blade easily cut through the tree trunk. And within about fifteen minutes I was able to cut the tree down and cut it into manageable pieces.

WORX JawSaw Review | PrettyHandyGirl

Next I added the pole attachment to trim branches up to 12 feet high. The pole slides into the slot near the black handle. The handle snaps into the handle clamp on the pole. The JawSaw handle needs to be pressed into the shaft and the red bar is inserted into the bottom to lock it in place.  The power pack slides into the battery slot on the JawSaw. The battery pack is then inserted below the handle on the extension pole.

WORX JawSaw Review | PrettyHandyGirl

The pole extension has a 12 foot reach, but you will need to position one hand on the black shaft to operate the JawSaw.

WORX JawSaw Review | PrettyHandyGirl

After positioning the JawSaw “jaws” around the branch…

WORX JawSaw Review | PrettyHandyGirl

…pull back on the black shaft to set the blade in motion.

WORX JawSaw Review | PrettyHandyGirl

The JawSaw does all the work for you while you remain safely on the ground. I also like the JawSaw because it gives the user a safe distance from the blade. With a regular chainsaw kickback is always a concern.

Logs and branches can be cut directly on the ground because the “jaws” blade guard holds the blade just above the ground. You can’t do that safely with a regular chainsaw.

WORX JawSaw Review | PrettyHandyGirl

The only negatives about the JawSaw is that you will need to have a battery charged ahead of time (but I much prefer the cordless vs. a corded yard tool.) And you are limited to a 4 inch cutting diameter.

Using the JawSaw on the extension pole is a bit awkward, but I don’t have the strongest arm strength. However, once the jaws are around the branch you don’t have to support the saw the entire time.

WORX JawSaw Review | PrettyHandyGirl

Overall, this is one yard tool that I’m happy to have in our tool shed. It is invaluable for safely removing limbs and cutting up small trees. I highly recommend the WORX Lithium Cordless Chainsaw with Extension Pole for tree trimming and small tree removal over a chainsaw.

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Use this access code to receive the discount: (code: TURKEY)
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Rockwell BONUS Holiday Special*: 50% off ALL accessories + free shipping. Use access code: (ACC50)

*You can’t combine coupons, but you can make two separate purchases if you want a Rockwell tool and the 50% off accessories.
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How to Trim & Install Closet Doors {Dremel Ultra-Saw Review}

How to Trim Closet Doors with Dremel UltraSaw | Pretty Handy Girl

How to Trim Closet Doors with Dremel UltraSaw | Pretty Handy Girl

I have a friend named Holly. She and I live in the same neighborhood and we help each other out with DIY projects. Last week she asked me to help her come up with a solution to hide her dirty laundry.

How to Trim Closet Doors with Dremel UltraSaw | Pretty Handy Girl

Holly and I were trying to figure out how to replace her sad laundry room door(s). The right side door had broken off and was unusable. We floated several ideas, originally thinking about creating inexpensive sliding barn doors. But, we scaled back that idea after realizing that inexpensive pipe hardware (spanning over 8 feet) was still too expensive for the budget. We began discussing buying cheap bi-fold doors and dressing them up. However, even new bi-folds aren’t super cheap. I mentioned she “might” have luck going to the Habitat ReStore to find the exact size doors. We both knew that was a slim chance. Then an idea hit me like a bi-fold door falling off its hinges! Among the multitude of things I have stored in my attic, were two sets of closet doors! One that used to be on my son’s reading nook closet. And the second set used to be on the pantry.

Would it be fitting that the only before pictures I have of the pantry doors are these gems?

How to Trim Closet Doors with Dremel UltraSaw | Pretty Handy Girl
The Streaker

How to Trim Closet Doors with Dremel UltraSaw | Pretty Handy Girl
The Goofball

You get the picture. They are ordinary bi-fold doors. After the doors were removed from our pantry I liked how open it was. Although sometimes I wonder if I am just too lazy to open and shut the doors every time I want food.

How to Trim Closet Doors with Dremel UltraSaw | Pretty Handy Girl

Regardless, I liked the open concept, but not necessarily our food being constantly ON DISPLAY. I have plans to add built-in cabinets and shelving to the pantry, similar to what my friends The DIY Village created, but for now we just have it open.

I ran home to dig through the attic and find the two sets of doors that might work for Holly. I held my breath (partly because the attic was stifling hot) as I measured the doors. My son’s closet doors were…too narrow. Whomp wah. The pantry doors were… a perfect width!!! But, they were 2″ too tall. No worries, I knew I could trim them down.

Here’s how to remove (and install) closet doors and cut them down to size using a Dremel Ultra-Saw: [Read more...]

Landscaping 101 – Tools, Planting and Adding Color {+ True Temper Giveaway}

Landscaping 101: Tools, Planting, and Adding Color to your Landscaping | Pretty Handy Girl

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When we bought our first home 13 years ago, we were lured by the idea of having at least half an acre of land. Little did we know that it would involve LOTS and LOTS of yard work. Over the years we’ve learned several tips and tricks to creating beautiful landscaping that will last for decades. If you’re a new homeowner (or still trying to find your green thumb), here’s the Landscaping 101 course to help you hit the ground running. I’ll be sharing which yard tools are essential, how to pick the right plants, how to plant them, and how to add color to your landscaping. Plus, stick around because I have a True Temper giveaway to fill your shed with new yard tools! Pull up a stump and lets dig in! [Read more...]

Ryobi Battery Powered vs. Campbell Hausfeld Pneumatic Finish Nailer Comparison

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A finish nailer is a great tool to have in your workshop.  It’s great for small projects, installing moulding, wall planking and more. After using both types of finish nailers for many projects, I wanted to break down the pros and cons of each.
Compressor_finish_nailer_combo_kitI was able to score this Campbell-Hausfeld nailer and compressor combo around Father’s Day at Lowe’s for $69! (Normal MSRP is $99.) I’ve used the compressor-powered nailer for many years on an assortment of DIY projects (like my Art & Craft Studio scrap wood wall.)  I haven’t had any problems with it. It’s reliable, lightweight and can fire a variety of length finish nails and U-staples. For the value, you can’t go wrong. The cons of the Campbell Hausfeld are mostly related to the compressor. It is very loud when the air tank is recharging. It’s a little bulky to store and haul around. You are limited to the length of your air hose and a power source. And you must empty the tank and maintain it periodically.

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In all the ways that the Campbell-Hausfeld fails, the Ryobi Air Strike excels. It doesn’t take up as much room to store. No compressor needed because it is essentially built into the tool. As long as the battery is charged you are ready to fire nails on a moment’s notice. The light helps illuminate in dark working areas. You aren’t tethered to an air hose or compressor. This allows you the freedom to wander anywhere with the nail gun. And it is quiet (with the exception of the bang when firing the nail.)

The downsides are it doesn’t shoot U-staples. The gun itself is heavier to hold because of the battery and size of the gun. If you lose charge in the battery you have to wait a while for it to charge. Finally, the price is slightly higher than the MSRP of the Campbell-Hausfeld at $129.

Update: I’ve had a few occasions where my Ryobi Air Strike has quit firing. Usually I can get it working again by unlatching the front of the gun and checking it for jams. And reloading with new nails. Recently at a DIY conference, I learned that I’m not the only person who has had this problem. So far the nail gun still works, hopefully it will continue to do so.

I hope this comparison helps you select your own finish nail gun.

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Want to learn how to use a finish nailer? Check out my tool tutorial videos and more!

Xtend + Climb Telescoping Ladder Review

Xtend + Climb Telescoping Ladder Review | Pretty Handy Girl

Xtend + Climb Telescoping Ladder Review | Pretty Handy Girl

A few months ago I got an email asking me if I wanted to test an Xtend + Climb telescoping ladder. I said I’d be happy to try it, but I couldn’t promise I’d blog about it. I try lots of products, but only the ones I love get mentioned on the blog. The litmus test is if I would recommend it to a close friend. If I would, then I share it with you (because y’all are like friends I just haven’t met yet.)

Xtend + Climb Telescoping Ladder Review | Pretty Handy Girl

The 760P Xtend + Climb ladder arrived in a compact box. When it arrived, I doubted that it really contained a 14.5ft ladder. But, sure enough inside was the telescoping ladder. Over the course of three months, I truly gave it a work out. I used it to clean the gutters and… [Read more...]

10 DIY Gift Ideas for the Rock Star DIYer

10 DIY Gift Ideas for the Rock Star DIYer

10 DIY Gift Ideas for the Rock Star DIYer

Christmas is next week? Christmas is next week! Who else is still running around buying those last minute gifts? {Me raising my hand.}

If you have someone on your list who is an avid DIYer, I have a new list of the Top 10 Gift Ideas for the Rock Star DIYer in your life! These tools will transform the newbie DIY junkie giving them better street cred and true rock star status! (Results may vary.) In all seriousness, these are the tools and products that I found helpful this year.

In order from  least to most expensive Top 10 DIY Gift Ideas: [Read more...]

How to Install a Scrap Wood Wall

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I’m so thrilled to be healthy again, that I’m doing a happy dance (see the video below if you want to witness it.) The pneumonia is gone and my boys are back in school. Can I get a “Woot Woot!”?

The bonus room/art studio renovation is rockin’ and rollin’ again and I have some progress to show you: [Read more...]

How to Salvage Wood from Shipping Pallets

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Pallet upcycling is all the rage today. But, if you’ve ever tried to actually remove wood planks from a pallet, you know that it is not an easy task. The nails that are used are typically spiral nails and are designed to really grip that wood. And if that’s not enough, they usually shoot 4-5 nails per joint. Sheesh, you’d think they were building a foundation for a 10 ton elephant. Okay, actually it is the foundation that has to hold tons of product as it is lifted by a fork lift. Which explains why harvesting pallet wood can be a labor intensive task.

I figured you’d appreciate it if I shared with you the quickest and easiest way I’ve found to salvage this beautifully rustic pallet wood. [Read more...]

How to Use a Kreg Jig

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Hey, look at this! Tool Tutorial Friday is back! Today I have a great tool for creating strong joints when building with wood and furniture construction.

I’ve been using my Kreg Jig more and more lately. It didn’t take me long to figure out how to use it, but I thought you might want the quick tutorial.

I was first introduced to the Kreg Jig by my friends Ana White and Rayan with The Design Confidential. These two DIY ladies opened my eyes to pocket screw joints. Be sure to check out their blogs for more tips from the masters!

The Basics on How To Use a Kreg Jig [Read more...]

Rustic Wooden Caddy with a Branch Handle

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You know when you are browsing through a yard sale and you spot a sad little box that is just begging for you to buy it and give it a new life?

No, okay I might be alone on this, but it happens to me all the time!

A while ago I spotted this little box for $3 at a yard sale. I couldn’t just leave it there in it’s sad burgundy dust-covered state. So, I brought it home and it sat in my garage collecting more dust. (This happens more often than I’d like to admit. It’s a sickness I have.) [Read more...]

How to Remove a Stuck, Stripped or Painted Screw

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Isn’t it frustrating when you are trying to unscrew a screw and the head is stripped? Or some moron painted the screw and now you can’t get your screwdriver into the slots. (I might have been the painting fool mentioned.) Luckily there are two ways to solve this problem. [Read more...]

Tool Tutorial Friday – How to Use a Caulk Gun

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You know the old saying, “No question is a dumb question.” Well, I have to say that about this tutorial, “No tutorial is a dumb tutorial.”

I realize that a caulk gun isn’t a big scary power tool, and yet I still think learning how to use a caulk gun is a very valuable skill for any handy person.

So, let’s get right down to some Caulk Talk.

A caulk gun is a necessary tool for any homeowner. Sealing gaps in siding, replacing the seal around the tub and shower surround when the old caulk gets dry and brittle is a must. Caulking around the trim around windows and doors will improve your homes energy efficiency and get rid of unsightly gaps. You can also use it for spreading construction adhesive and any other substrate that is sold in tube form. A caulk gun saves your hands from cramping, especially if you have a lot of caulking to do.

A basic caulk gun costs about $10 – $20, but you could buy a power version which run up to $200! Sheesh!

Starting a tube of caulk:

Cut off the tip of your tube by inserting it into the hole at an angle.

Poke the stick attached to the gun into the tube to puncture the seal.

 Loading a caulk gun:

Pull the hooked rod all the way back. Insert your tube base first. Then tilt the nozzle end into the top of the gun.

Rotate the hook so it is facing up and the teeth are facing down.

Pull the trigger and you’re good to go!

Be prepared to pull the hook rod back when you finish or the caulk will continue to flow out of the nozzle.

Watch this video for more details on using a caulk gun (also called a caulking gun) and why it is important to fill any cracks or seams in your siding!

*Thanks to The Real Tim Jones for sharing the secret about how to cut and start your caulk tube! Tim is sooo right, I never knew about this until I saw his video!

And, if you want to find out how to keep your caulk from drying out in between uses, my friend Sandra at Sawdust and Paper Scraps has this tip.

Happy Caulking!

Best of Pretty Handy Girl 2011

It’s the end of the year and I know y’all have been busy. So, I thought I’d give you the cliff notes version of Pretty Handy Girl in 2011.

Gift Bucket Liner from Goodwill Pants

How to Paint a Dandelion Wall Mural

Fork Photo and Note Holder

Spring Paper and Button Flowers

How to Paint Doors the Professional Way

 

How to Paint Like a Pro Series:

 

Build Your Own Ladder Display Shelves

Photography Secrets for Shooting Indoors

 

Toilet Repairs Series:

 

Dream Big Butterfly Window

Backlit Cut Out Bookcase

Rustic Wine Crate

How to Replace an Ugly Hollywood Strip Light

Board and Batter Tutorial

How to Make a Branch Towel Bar

Light Bulb Comparison

How to Install Low Voltage Landscape Lighting

Ombré Paint Chip Lampshade

 

Cabinet Door Revamped to Chalkboard Message Board

Kitchen Cabinet Turned into Shoe Storage Bench

 

Dollar Tree Placemat Garden Flag

 

Beveled Glass Light Fixture Ornaments

DIY Matchbox Car Race Track

 

And Finally, A Whole Slew of Power Tool Tutorials:

Compound Miter Saw

Jig Saw

Finish Nailer and Compressor

Cordless Drill

Circular Saw

Table Saw

Band Saw

I don’t know about you, but I’m super excited for 2012! I hope you’ll stick around for some more DIY tutorials and empowerment!

Did you have a favorite post of mine this year that I forgot to mention? Do tell! Chosing from almost 200 posts makes for some tough decisions.

Tool Tutorial Friday – How to Use a Band Saw

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Welcome back to another Tool Tutorial Friday! I hope you enjoyed some time off last week. Today I want to share with you a power tool that can cut long straight lines and it can cut curved lines with ease. This tool is also my “go to” tool when I need to cut plexiglass. I’m introducing you to a band saw.

Although the band saw is big and may seem intimidating, it actually isn’t very scary. The blade is usually a mere 1/4″ wide and the cutting action is not super loud and it doesn’t usually throw wood back at you. So, cutting with this power saw really gives you a lot of control and can help eliminate the intimidation factor.

The band saw I have it old, but it still gets the job done. If you were to buy a new band saw, the mechanics are basically the same and not much has changed over the years. The size of the band saw (usually 9″, 10″, 12″ or 14″) refers to the distance between the blade and the neck or side column of the saw. Prices for a new band saw vary from about $125 – $600. I would definitely recommend buying a band saw used unless you are running a business that puts out tons of wood projects. Also, make sure that your band saw comes with a detachable rip fence or you will need to purchase one to fit your saw. This is important for making straight cuts.

A band saw has a circular one piece band shaped blade. The blade rotates around the two wheels at a high speed and allows for precise cuts.

There are several blades available for a bandsaw. In addition you could buy a sanding band for sanding intricate cuts. Band saw blades have a TPI (teeth per inch) number. In general, the more teeth per inch the tighter the cuts and more intricate details it can handle. However, that blade will flex more and cannot cut harder stock wood as efficiently. For straight cuts and thicker stock, a lower TPI number is desired. For a more detailed explanation of band saw parts and blades, check out WoodworkingHistory.com’s bandsaw syllabus.

The ONLY saw that I know of that will make more precise cuts than a band saw is a scroll saw. And when I talk precise, I mean making doll furniture type precise. A band saw is used for ripping, cross cutting, curved cuts, circles, you name it! So, why would you need anything else if this saw does it all? Well, sometimes speed is a factor, the band saw is not super fast when ripping a piece of plywood. Plus, you are limited by the width of your bandsaw. You have to work with a board that will fit in between the blade and the neck of the saw (this is specific inch size of your saw.)

Personally, I prefer using the band saw for smaller projects and cutting plexiglass, thin metal, or intricate shapes. It is a staple for anyone who wants to cut letters out of wood! When making intricate cuts, you will need to plan your cutting paths. In other words, you can’t put your wood in and cut around like you would scissors in a piece of paper. Here is an example of what I’m talking about:

To cut the letter “T” out of a piece of wood, you’ll likely have to make several cuts into the wood, making your cuts meet at tight angles or corners.

Before making any cut using a band saw, you need to make sure that your guide is set for the proper depth. You want the guide to ride just above your board. There should be approximately a 1/16″ space between the wood and the guide so the board doesn’t get pinched between the guide and the work table. On my band saw the adjustment is made by loosening a screw at the back of the machine, raising the guide, and re-tightening the screw.

My band saw also has a work table tilt lever for making bevel cuts. Honestly I’ve only used this feature once, but it is nice to have. Simply turn the lever to loosen the bolt holding the table in place. Then tilt the table to the desired angle and re-tighten the bolt.


That’s basically it for setting up the band saw. Before cutting be sure to wear safety glasses. Ear protection is a good idea, but I’ve been known to skip it since this saw doesn’t bust my ear drums as much as some of my other power tools.

As I’ve said before, keep in mind your safety is in your own hands:

DISCLAIMER

The viewer assumes all responsibility and liability associated with the hazards of woodworking. Pretty Handy Girl is not responsible for any errors or omissions that may be present in this tutorial. She also assumes no liability for any action or inaction of a viewer.

Please use extreme caution when using power tools. Read your tool manual thoroughly and wear protective safety gear. Take your time familiarizing yourself with a tool before using it. (If you are missing the manual, you can easily find it online by going to the manufacturer’s website or google your saw’s make and model + manual.)

Please recognize that I have tried to put together a basic band saw usage tutorial to get you started. I have tried my best to show the safest way to use a band saw. That being said, I am not a professional (I only play one on this blog ;-) .)

And here is the video tutorial:

Okay, time once again to let me know what you think about this tutorial; ask any questions; or simply beg to win. When you do so, you will be entered to win this cutie!

Don’t let her pink attire fool you. This lovely lady packs a punch that will knock out any “boy’s” hammer! So limber up those fingers and leave me a note. Your comment will automatically enter you into the 13 oz. Tomboy Tools magnetic hammer giveaway. Good luck!

Sharing with these link parties:

Weekend Bloggy Reading

Tool Tutorial Friday – Table Saw Tutorial

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Welcome back to another Tool Tutorial Friday. I have a secret to tell you, this is one of the two power tools I own that I fear the most (the other is my router.) However, everytime I use my table saw I get a little more comfortable. Regardless, I will always keep that “healthy fear” so I won’t forget to use caution when using this power tool.

If you are just getting used to power tools, I would use a jigsaw or miter saw before tackling this big bad boy! That being said, I believe in all of you and know you can use a table saw, so let’s get to it!

A table saw is a great tool for ripping long pieces of wood. Unlike the miter saw which is limited to a certain width stock, the table saw can handle long sheets of 4′ x 8′ plywood.

Explanation of a cross cut vs. a rip cut:

  • Rip – ripping a board is cutting with the grain along the length of a board. This is usually done with a table saw, but can be done with a circular saw and a straight edge.
  • Cross cut – a type of cut that is perpendicular to the grain or along the width of your board. Cross cuts are usually made with a miter saw or circular saw, but can also be made with a hand saw. (I’ve been known to make this cut using my band saw before I had either a miter or table saw.)

We bought our table saw when we laid the wood floors in our living room. I knew that we’d probably have to rip a board or two once we reached the end. Well, wouldn’t you know that our living room ended up being the perfect size for all full width boards. I kept the table saw anyway knowing that I’d use it (and I have used it a fair amount.)

Table saws come in either a stationary or a portable style. I prefer the portability of my table saw. I can roll it out into the driveway (to keep the sawdust outside.) And, because the stand is built-in, I can fold it up on its side, roll it back into the garage and store it away when not in use.

Table saws cost anywhere from $120 up to $1,000 or more. The Ryobi 10 inch table saw with transportable stand that I use costs $300 at Home Depot.

I highly recommend wearing ear protection, safety googles and a dust mask when using a table saw. Hooking your table saw up to shop vac will greatly reduce the amount of saw dust that is discharged (and it spits out a lot of sawdust!)

Two common dangers of using a table saw are kickback (the board being thrown back toward the user) and hand injuries from forcing material through or feeding the wood with the hand too close to the saw. Kickback will happen if the wood is pinched too tight between the rip fence and the blade. When making a cross cut with a table saw, DO NOT use the rip fence! This can cause kickback to occur.

Table Saw Features:

Safety features are super important on a table saw. A blade cover is essential to keep hands away from the blade. And for that reason a table saw should never be used without the guard in place. For even more protection from hand injuries, there is a table saw that is manufactured under the name Stop Saw, that retracts in a split second if it detects flesh against the blade.

Behind the blade on my table saw are anti-kickback pawls. This is a close up view of this safety mechanism. They are basically teeth that will dig into the wood should the blade start to “kick back” the material toward the user.

 

The rip fence is used to setting the width of a cut and keeping the board straight when making a rip cut. Never use the rip fence when making a cross cut. My saw has a miter fence for making angled miter cuts. I honestly haven’t used that feature yet.

The blade depth adjustment and bevel adjustment knob are one and the same on the Ryobi. To adjust the bevel, push the knob in and then turn it.

The material support and the sawdust chute are located on the back of my table saw.


When using a table saw, be sure to have a clear work area. Set up supports or have someone help you to support large pieces of wood after they exit the saw. Use a push stick to assist when making a narrow cut. Do not wear any loose clothing or jewelry that could catch on the machine. Always use a table saw when you are well fed, alert, and are not in a hurry. This is a serious power tool and requires all your focus to use it.

DISCLAIMER

The viewer assumes all responsibility and liability associated with the hazards of woodworking. Pretty Handy Girl is not responsible for any errors or omissions that may be present in this tutorial. She also assumes no liability for any action or inaction of a viewer.

Please use extreme caution when using power tools. Read your tool manual thoroughly and wear protective safety gear. Take your time familiarizing yourself with a tool before using it. (If you are missing the manual, you can easily find it online by going to the manufacturer’s website or google your saw’s make and model + manual.)

Please recognize that I have tried to put together a basic table saw usage tutorial to get you started. I have tried my best to show the safest way to use a table saw. That being said, I am not a professional (I only play one on this blog ;-) .)

If I haven’t scared the sawdust out of you, here is the video tutorial for using a table saw:

I hope I have empowered you to use a table saw at some point. It is a good saw to have in your shop. Especially if you need to lay wood flooring, install beadboard wainscoting and many other projects that require you to rip a board.

And now the moment y’all have been waiting for: The winner of last weeks Tomboy Tools Magnetic hammer is Seansmom! Congratulations. I clicked over to her profile link and am determined to stay in their Carolan guest house if I’m ever in the Northwest Iowa area. What a view from their guest house:

Check your email and get back to me to claim your hammer!

I can’t believe how few comments I had last week. If the same happens this week you have a great chance of winning! So, once again leave me a comment below and let me know if you are willing to try a table saw after watching my video tutorial. I hope the answer is yes! Your comment automatically enters you into the 13 oz. Tomboy Tools magnetic hammer giveaway. Good luck!

 

 

 

Linking this tutorial to Serenity Now’s Weekend Bloggy Read

Tool Tutorial Friday – How to Use a Cordless Drill

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If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you know how I feel about my cordless drill. Yes, I really do love it.

He’s my right hand man. I can’t think of a project that I have completed that I haven’t used my drill.

A cordless drill is an essential tool for any homeowner. If you don’t have one, stop reading this and go buy one! Seriously, they are that important to the DIYer!

Cordless drills can range in price from $30 – $200. The Ryobi 12 volt Lithium Ion cordless drill I use costs $79. The drill came with two batteries, a charger, a fabric case, the drill and a screwdriver bit. That should be the bare minimum that any cordless drill kit includes.

You may be curious what the volts mean. In short, the volts equals the power of the drill. The higher the voltage the stronger the drill. In all honesty, I think I need to upgrade to an 18 volt drill this year. The 12 volt has been good for 90% of the projects I complete. But, I want the 18 volt to help me drill and drive screws through harder wood.

If you are in the market for a new drill, I highly recommend a lithium-ion drill. Lithium-ion is the newest in battery technology. It lasts much longer than a traditional battery.  And, they don’t lose power as the battery runs low. It will just stop when the battery runs out.

Most drills have a torque adjustment. I rarely take mine off the high setting (because my drill isn’t super strong to begin with.) But, basically the torque is the setting where the drill disengages so that it won’t burn out the motor. If you need more torque, use a higher number. But, if you are just starting out, try it on a lower setting. Some drills have an adjustable speed setting. This is a nice feature and really helps when you need to switch from drilling through soft wood to a harder surface.

 

There is a button on each side that is used to change the drill rotation direction. Clockwise to drill and drive screws. Counter-clockwise to remove screws and bolts.

The chuck is the part of the drill that accepts your bits. Keyless chucks are pretty much the norm right now unless you have an older drill. Back in the day, drills came with a key to loosen the chuck. If you lost the key you were out of luck. Thank goodness for innovation!

Besides the obvious uses for a cordless drill (hole drilling, driving screws and bolts), I also use my drill to mix paint!

I bought this paint mixer attachment and use it all the time to mix new colors or just to mix paint that has separated. There is also an attachment for your drill that will dig holes in the ground when planting bulbs. I tried this attachment, but I couldn’t keep the chuck tight enough on the attachment to bore through our southern red clay ;-(.

Okay, let’s get this video started!

DISCLAIMER

The viewer assumes all responsibility and liability associated with the hazards of woodworking. Pretty Handy Girl is not responsible for any errors or omissions that may be present in this tutorial. She also assumes no liability for any action or inaction of a viewer.

Please use extreme caution when using power tools. Read your tool manual thoroughly and wear protective safety gear. Take your time familiarizing yourself with a tool before using it. (If you are missing the manual, you can easily find it online by going to the manufacturer’s website or google your saw’s make and model + manual.)

Please recognize that I have tried to put together a basic cordless drill tutorial to get you started. I have tried my best to show the safest way to use them. That being said, I am not a professional (I only play one on this blog ;-) .)

If you don’t own a cordless drill, I implore you to add this DIY essential to your holiday wishlist!

(I was not paid or compensated to write this post. This is my honest opinion and true feelings about my cordless drill!)

Winner announcements…

First, let me say, WOW! We had some interest in the Bogs Footwear giveaway. Rightfully so — those boots are super comfortable. I have to add a pair of McKenna’s to my Christmas wishlist this year ;-). If you didn’t win, you really need to add them to your list as well!

The winner of the Bogs Footwear gift certificate was: Jacque K. She said, “Oh wow these are GREAT! I love the McKenna and the Classic High Tuscany!”

AND, the winner of last week’s magnetic hammer was : Carla. She said, “Thank you so much!! I recently bought a compressor/finish nailer combo (awesome deal @ Home Depot!) and I hate to admit that it still scares the crap out of me. I have so many plans for it and now, thanks to your video, I’ll be much more confident about using it. Your video was my prize for the day, but if I should happen to get luckier, I’ve been wanting a smaller hammer for some of the projects I do (& I could use it for some of my sewing projects) – the 8 oz. pink magnetic hammer would be great!”

To be entered to win your own hammer from my sponsor, Tomboy Tools:

  1. Leave me a comment letting me know if you have any questions or comments on the Tool Tutorial Friday series.
  2. For a second chance to win, head over to Tomboy Tools and name one of the Tomboy tools that is available in blue (not pink!)

You really want to win one of these hammers. It is just as tough as any hammer I’ve owned. And the pink hammer insures that it will remain in YOUR toolbox, not your man’s ;-).

Have a great weekend y’all. I’ll be at the Raleigh Habitat for Humanity ReStore on Saturday for a demonstration. Hope to see some of you there!

 

 

How to Use a Pneumatic Finish Nailer and Air Compressor (with video)

trimmed_window

Welcome back for another Tool Tutorial Friday! Today I’m going to introduce you to a 2 gallon compressor and pneumatic finish nailer.  I use the Campbell Hausfeld 2 gallon compressor with Pneumatic Finish Nailer. I bought these as a kit when they were on sale at Lowe’s for $69! A good price on this set is $89. There are loads of other brands out there and I’m sure they have other features and capabilities, but frankly I’ve been happy with my set that I’ve had for 2 years. Other kits can cost up to $300. The only drawback with this set is that they can not be used for framing (building walls of a house structure.) But, so far I haven’t needed to do that.

The finish nailer works very well on moulding, trim, board and batten, wainscoting, and other small wood projects.

The compressor is a fairly simple tool. When turned on, air builds up in the chambers until it reaches the maximum 110 psi.

The pressure going into the air hose can be controlled by the regulator button. I typically use my compressor and nailer at about 90 psi. But, if the nails are going too far into the wood, I might turn it down to 80 psi. Or if the nails aren’t going in far enough I will turn it up to 100 psi. With continual use, the pressure will drop down. When the pressure is low enough, the compressor will start itself back up to raise the pressure again.

The on/off switch on my compressor is in the back.

The finish nailer holds small brad nails up to 2″ in length and “U” shaped staples. They are held in the magazine. The safety tip on the nailer must be pressed into the wood before a nail will fire. Otherwise, the gun will not discharge.

While using the nailer and compressor it is very important to use safety goggles and ear protection.

When you are finished using the compressor, it is important to release all the air from the compressor. If you don’t release the air, moisture can build up and rust the tank. Start by reducing the pressure by turning the regulator down. Then pull the safety valve ring. It will close automatically, so you will need pull it a few times or hold it open. I also unscrew the valve at the bottom of the tank to insure it is completely empty before storing. Then I screw the valve back in.

After the tank is empty, release the hose from the nailer. Add a drop or two of penetrating oil onto and in the air inlet on the nailer to keep it well lubricated. Cover the air inlet and then you can store your nailer and compressor.

DISCLAIMER

The viewer assumes all responsibility and liability associated with the hazards of woodworking. Pretty Handy Girl is not responsible for any errors or omissions that may be present in this tutorial. She also assumes no liability for any action or inaction of a viewer.

Please use extreme caution when using power tools. Read your tool manual thoroughly and wear protective safety gear. Take your time familiarizing yourself with a tool before using it. (If you are missing the manual, you can easily find it online by going to the manufacturer’s website or google your saw’s make and model + manual.)

Please recognize that I have tried to put together a basic finish nailer and compressor tutorial to get you started. I have tried my best to show the safest way to use them. That being said, I am not a professional (I only play one on this blog ;-) .)

Without further ado, here is the tutorial video:

 

How to Use a Miter Saw – Tool Tutorial Friday

my_miter_saw

Hello and welcome to the very first Tool Tutorial Friday! Come right in and have a seat. If you give me less than 10 minutes of your time, I will empower you with some new power tool skills! Today, I’m going to show you one of my favorite power tools. In fact, I dreamed of owning one for years. Using a hand saw and a cheap plastic miter box was really putting a cramp in my DIY style (if you know what I mean.)

My Makita 10″ Sliding Compound Miter Saw (I just love saying that) was a Mother’s Day present to me a few years ago. That’s right, I don’t ask for jewelry for big occasions. Pretty Handsome Guy knows to ask one thing before a upcoming holiday, “So Honey, what power tool do you want now?” It’s true, I’m a power tool junky.

Here is the deal, I really want these workshops to be interactive, so don’t be shy! Ask questions, leave comments, let me know you are learning something new.

Okay, let’s get started…

This is my Sliding Compound Miter Saw (oooo, ahhhhh.) She’s a diva of a power tool and therefore demands a little respect.

 

Miter saws come in all shapes, sizes and colors. The size (usually from 7.25″ up to 12″) refers to the diameter of the blade on the saw. The larger the blade the wider the boards it can cut. However, if you purchase a “sliding” miter saw, you can usually cut a few inches wider than your blade diameter. Miter saws run anywhere from $80 up to $800 depending on the features and brand you choose. 

A non-slide (regular) miter saw will not slide forward and back. Most of the lower end models will still cut a miter and a bevel. Sometimes, these “lower end” models are affectionately referred to as chop saws.

I highly recommend a sliding miter saw, if you can afford it. Being able to cut a few inches wider means the difference between using your miter saw or having to break out the circular saw or table saw.

The modern miter saws have a trigger built into the handle. Some also have a safety button that you must push with your finger or thumb before you can squeeze the trigger. To start a straight downward cut, press the safety button, squeeze the trigger and wait for the saw to reach maximum rotation. Then slowly lower your saw into the board you are cutting. Never force the saw through the wood. Let the saw cut and then guide it downward. Once you have completed the cut, bring the saw back up and out of the wood, then you can release the trigger.

A compound miter saw has a blade that will cut miters and bevels at the same time (thus the name compound, as in compound cut.) The diagram below shows the bevel and miter adjustments.

Most miter saws should have a fence. The fence lets you rest the back of your board against. It keeps the wood steady and helps your miter saw cut true to the degree setting you have chosen.

My miter saw has a clamp, if yours has one, use it! Let the clamp be your right hand man (literally). If you don’t have a clamp on your saw, be sure to always position your hand far away from the blade as you hold your board up again the fence. AND NEVER reach under the saw while it is rotating (guard or no guard!)

When using a sliding miter saw, there is a proper way to make a sliding cut (used to cut wider boards):

  1. Start by putting your board against the fence and clamp it.
  2. Before you start the blade, pull the saw toward you until the blade is directly over the board’s edge that is closest to you.
  3. Squeeze the trigger to start the saw and wait for it to reach peak rotation speed. Then pull the blade down and into the wood.
  4. While the blade is still rotating, push the saw back and away from you as your blade cuts through the rest of the wood (see photo below.)
  5. Once the blade has finished cutting through the wood, raise the saw and release the trigger to stop the saw.

Before you watch the video — a few necessary words of caution:

DISCLAIMER

The viewer assumes all responsibility and liability associated with the hazards of woodworking. Pretty Handy Girl is not responsible for any errors or omissions that may be present in this tutorial. She also assumes no liability for any action or inaction of a viewer.

Please use extreme caution when using power tools. Read your tool manual thoroughly and wear protective safety gear. Take your time familiarizing yourself with a tool before using it. (If you are missing the manual, you can easily find it online by going to the manufacturer’s website or google your saw’s make and model + manual.)

Please recognize that I have tried to put together a basic miter saw usage tutorial to get you started. I have tried my best to show the safest way to use a miter saw. That being said, I am not a professional (I only play one on this blog ;-).)

And now, let’s get you more familiar with using a miter saw!

I hope you have been empowered! Go on and give the miter saw a try if you own one. If you decide to buy a new miter saw, I recommend buying a reputable brand with a decent amount of features. My goal has always been to save up to buy a saw that will last my lifetime, and not settle for a cheap saw just because that is what I could afford at the time.

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May I Have Your Attention Please – Morning Announcements

PHG_signature_on_wood

Did my post title take you back to grade school? Now sit up straight in your chair and don’t fidget. ;-D

I apologize for the randomness of this post, but I have just a few things to tell you. I figured I’d roll them all up into a nice little neat blog post (kind of like a sushi roll!)

Sharpie Goes Pink!

In October Sharpie joined the fight against breast cancer by kicking off their “Ink it Pink” campaign. For every signature that is uploaded this month, they will donate $1 to City of Hope, one of the nation’s leading cancer research, treatment and education centers.

I’ve uploaded my pink signature:

Won’t you join in and help in the fight against cancer? More details here.

GMC Let’s Trade Secrets Challenge

If you haven’t entered the GMC Trade Secrets contest, you are missing out on the opportunity to win a trip to LA or New York City where you will co-star with Carter, Eric or Sam!

But, hey, if starring on TV ain’t your thang (I totally understand that), 2nd prize is an iPad2 and a $500 iTunes gift card (Suh-weeeet!)

Upload your photos or video by October 25th and good luck!

Finally, I have some big news for you. I will be starting a tool tutorial series this coming Friday called Tool Tutorial Friday (very creative I know.)

Every Friday I will introduce you to a new power tool via video.

I’ll show you the basics of using the tool. And then open up the comment section for any questions you may have about it!

This is definitely something I have wanted to do for you since the beginning of my blog. I can tell you now, honestly I wasn’t very comfortable on camera. I’m sure you’ve seen a few videos popping up on the blog. They have all been in preparation for this tutorial series. I’m very excited about empowering you with some basic power tool operation knowledge.  I’ll slowly work through my arsenal until I’m all out of tools. I hope you will join me every week for Tool Tutorial Friday! I may have a gift for you as well.

See you next week ;-).