How to Make Wallpaper Paste

Reattaching Wallpaper

I needed to make wallpaper paste. Just a little to reattach half a sheet of wallpaper that had come loose below a chair-rail. It looked bad, so with a search on the internet, I found a couple recipes and settled on a flour mixture. I cut the recipe in half and still had some left over.

I used 1/2 cup flour and 1/6th cup sugar- stir together and in a small saucepan whisk in 1/2 cup water to wet the mix then add another 1/2 cup water while mixing. The key is no lumps. Over medium heat whisk the mixture. Do Not Stop! Even for a moment. I did and had to throw away the batch, It started to setup and burn on the bottom causing lumps. You don’t want lumps under your wallpaper. So keep on whisking and all of a sudden it will start to thicken and look like wall paper paste. Keep on stirring and remove from heat. Let cool.

Wish I would have taken pictures while doing it. I could not remove the paper all the way, as it was trapped by the baseboard. Pulling the chair-rail back, was the hardest part of the job. Using a 2″ paint brush I applied a thin layer of paste to the wall. Smoothing the paper onto the paste with the side of my hand while positioning it. I did get a wrinkle so pulled the sheet part way off to release it.

After a couple days the paper is still attached to the wall. Wallpaper is not as popular as it used to be, but it was far easier to fix one little sheet than take it all down and repaint. The picture above is of the finished job. No more wrinkles!

(Update) I got a message from Laura from Washington. She said using cornstarch works good for attaching fabric to walls and is easily taken down later, without damaging the wall or door. Here is the site she got her info. from How About Orange. Thanks Laura!


Making Wooden Toy Cars For Charity

Toy VW Bug

The woodworking club I belong to Woodworkers of Whittier (WOW), makes wooden toy cars for charity each year at Christmas time.  They have to be easy and cheap to build, because we make 1500 of them. Each member decides how many they want to make and the club provides the wheels. Guys come up with different designs. Patterns are traded and modified. There are certain ones I like to make. VW Bugs, Sports Cars, Trucks- with variations on each. (click here for a plan of one)

The wood used is 1 1/2″ thick or thicker. Too thin and the axel pegs hit each other. They can be shortened, but 1 1/2″ works great and happens to be the thickness of a 2×4. Common 2×4″ lumber works as long as it is dry. The club gets donations of cut off wood from different places. Nice scrap hardwood can be got free from places that make furniture, mantels, cabinets. We get 2×4 scraps from job sites. The VW above is made of mahogany scraps with a thin piece of oak sandwiched between to give the stripe. Sometimes I use oak, mahogany, maple, walnut , depends on what we get for free. Hardwood is harder to finish though. Cutting out the blanks is easy. Sanding, drilling the holes, adding details, rounding over the edges, final sanding is what takes the time. We are not allowed to put any clear coat finish on the toys because of government bureaucratic BS.

Wooden VW BlanksWood toy sports car


Playing around with the shapes of a car you can get something different. Cut the top off the sports coupe- you get a convertible. A basic truck shape can lead to various models.

Wooden Toy Trucks


Add thin pieces of wood to make the bed. A donated piece of stair handrail makes a tanker truck.

Wooden Toy PickupWooden Toy Trucks


The night arrives when the members bring the finished toys to “wheels and axels” night. The members get busy glueing and tapping the axels through the wheels and into the cars. Makes a big change to see the wheels on.

Wooden tanker truck Wood Pickup Truck Toy


The wheels that the club buys are 1 1/2″ with 1/4″ hole. Like these on Amazon 50 Wood 1-1/2 Inch Toy Wheel W/1/4 Hole You also need to buy axel pegs too.
Drill a 7/32″ hole in car for the axel. Piles of cars arrive at the meeting and work commences with a lot of hammering and things getting done. Each year WOW gives cars and blocks to 22 charities. Some give out a toy with a Christmas meal and others let the kids play with the toys at the school.

It does not have to be done on a large scale. One person can do some  toys and give them away. Even better, an adult teaching a child to a make a toy and the child giving the toy to someone less fortunate. Now you have something special.

Wooden Toy Sports Cars Piles of Wood Cars


Assembling cars for charity

Ghost in Window Halloween Prop

Cheese cloth ghost in windowglowing cheese cloth ghost

This is a ghost in window Halloween prop I made of cheese cloth. It can also used as a “flying crank ghost”. This is much simpler to make and set up. The secret is cheese cloth, a wig stand for the head (from a wig shop) and clothes hanger wire for the frame. A “black light” causes it to glow. The ghost actually glows white. Not blue as in the picture. See video at the end. Click on the pictures to enlarge.

Cheese cloth ghost close

Cheese cloth ghost support


This was originally inspired by the pdf you can view here Phantasmechanics. Go to the very end of the pdf for the relevant part ( page 17 and 18). Print it out. This is just the marionette part, but I do hook it up to a “flying crank” too. On this one I use an oscillating fan to give it motion. It is very eerie, her looking out the window– Waiting.  A 2 foot black light on the couch makes it glow. It is supported by a camera tripod with a tube attached. A bolt in it just sticks into the styrofoam head. Fishing line attached to the hands and tacked to the wall hold the arms up. I find it is better to support the head the way I have done, instead of a stand going straight up. It lets the fabric move in the wind of the fan without hitting a pole.

You don’t have to use a tripod. The marionette is light. A stick tacked to a 2×2 nailed to a plywood base would work. Use coat hanger wire for the frame. Bend the wire ends into loops with long nose pliers. You MUST soak the cheese cloth in laundry detergent with brighteners (bluing) to make it glow under black light. I think all detergents have bluing to make whites brighter.

Ghost skeletonCheese cloth ghost head

Things I did different than the Phantasmechanics pdf. I drape one layer of cheese cloth over the head and face. It gives a darker look to the face area when glowing. I only glued the cloth to the hands. I used a double layer of cloth for the hair. It looks more like a shawl. They talk abut putting a hook through the head to suspend it. You don’t have to do that since you are supporting it from below. I didn’t paint anything. I put blue LED lights in the eyes, but I didn’t like them, so don’t use them. They were too bright and drew all attention to them. I think a ghost should be ethereal.

I measured my arms for the wire length. I am a guy, so they may be too long, but it works. The hands are made from thin cardboard, like that from a cereal box. I think mine was from the packaging of a shirt. Just trace your hands. I glued the cheese cloth on it with watered thinned white glue.Cheese cloth ghost handcheese cloth ghost hand 2

I used Trilene low vis green fishing line to suspend the arms. Tacking it to the wall. You can use black thread too.

I have had many compliments on this ghost and a few wouldn’t come to the door. Too scared! It is an excellent project and will wow them year after year.

See the video for the ghost hooked up to the flying crank mechanism.

Grim Reaper Halloween Prop

Grim Reaper Halloween PropReaper Looking Down




Here is a Grim Reaper Halloween Prop I made to put on my balcony. It has scared many a person as it stands 6 feet tall. At a distance it looks like someone is standing, looking down, ready to do evil. People don’t like things looking down at them. Probably a primal fear. I hear “I thought someone was standing there” often.

It is made from a costume I got from a shop. Similar to this one California Costume Mens Horror Robe (weapon not included)

You can do this with any full costume if you make a “skeleton”, also known as a figure armature, underneath. This one is made using 3/4″ PVC pipe and some 90 degree fittings, 1 Gallon milk jug for head, bubble wrap or paper to fill out shoulders, 2″x6″ wood base. Click on pictures to enlarge.

Reaper Costume Bag

Reaper Frame


Here is the cutting list for a 6 foot guy using schedule 40 3/4″ PVC Pipe 164″ total. So 2- 10′ sticks.

  • 2 legs 33.5″
  • 1 spine 20″  1 neck  2″
  • 2 upper arms 13″  2 lower arms 10.5″
  • 2 shoulders 8″   2 hips 5.5″

PVC Fittings needed: 1 Tee (at hips), 1 Cross (at neck), 6- 90 degree elbows

I dry fitted everything together and in the end, I only glued the hips when I had the proper angle to lean against the balcony rail. I want to be able to take it apart for storage. Glue the parts you don’t want to move, but be careful. If you glue all the parts, you may not be able to get the costume on. The base is just a 2×6 with 1″ holes drilled it. you may have to rock the drill when boring to oversize the hole a bit. My PVC was just over an inch wide. You will have to put a weight on the base. It will not stand on its own. I have it leaning against the rail for support. Depending on how you have your prop setup, you will have to make a suitable base. A larger piece of plywood with the 2×6 nailed to it, for example.

wood base reaperReaper head

For the head I used a gallon water/ milk jug sprayed black except where I masked it for eyes. The back it opened up so I can put a light in it to make the eyes glow. A couple of those LED tea lights would work. I wrapped tape around the PVC pipe neck to make it fit the head (jug spout) tightly.

reaper head backlight reaper head

I used bubble wrap- wrapped around the PVC shoulders so the costume fit better. You are going to have to customize it for the costume you use. Email me pics on what you come up with.

Washer Agitator Repair Whirlpool

Washer Agitator WhirlpoolWasher agitator repair for a Whirlpool washer. Most top load washers are similar. This is how I repaired mine. I noticed clothes were not getting properly cleaned and I heard a knocking when the machine was running. This was a top load Whirlpool washing machine. While running, I could see the top of the agitator was not rotating. When I grabbed it, I could easily turn it in either direction. The top section of the agitator is supposed to move in one direction pushing the clothes down to the lower agitator that moves back and forth. This causes the  clothes to get deep cleaned. If the top agitator does not work. the clothes just move back and forth. Researching, I found that there is a part that stops the top agitator from moving in both directions. They are called “agitator dogs”. They work just like a ratchet wrench.Here you can see the agitator after removing the softener dispenser and then the dust cover. You can see the dog assembly held on by the bolt.

Agitator dust cover Whirlpool

Agitator  Dog Assembly

I bought an agitator repair kit from for less than $5. The shipping was $7. They have good videos there on how to replace these parts. Better than I can do. View them first before ordering parts. You are going to need a socket wrench with an extension to remove the bolt. Notice how it engages the washer before removing all the way. I ran into a problem separating the lower from the upper  agitator. They would not come loose. Looking down the throat of the agitator, I could see two of four plastic tabs were worn over as they came through the dog assembly. This kept it from releasing. I lightly ground on it with a Dremel tool until it came loose. That was the hardest part and it shouldn’t normally happen. It seems I am just lucky that way. Here is a picture of the tabs that go through the dog assembly.

Lower agitator engagement tabs

The teeth of the dogs engage the sides of the agitator in one direction. They are made of nylon and will wear out. Here is a picture of the new and old parts. You can see the worn out teeth on the left. Click on picture to enlarge.

Agitator repair kit Whirlpool

After replacing the parts the washer works great! Only cost me $15!

Review Ryobi P882 Drill and Impact Driver Kit

Ryobi P882

This is a review of the Ryobi P882 Drill and Impact Driver Kit. I got it at Home Depot. It is a 18 Volt Lithium Ion setup. My previous cordless drill was a 12 volt nicad Hitachi which always seemed slow to me. There is a substantial increase in power with the new drill. I like the Lithium power-pack because the speed of the drill does not decrease as the power pack gets drained and they hold a charge a long time when stored. At first I did not like the color, but it is growing on me. It comes with a soft case, rapid charger and two battery packs. You can get larger battery packs, but I find the ones supplied last long enough for my use. The included charger rapidly recharges them in under an hour. Ryobi Lithium Drill P882




Ryobi P271Ryobi P271 top

The drill is a 2 speed range 0-440 rpm and 0-1600 rpm, 1/2″ chuck, 24 clutch settings. The chuck locks and has a long nose so it is easy to tighten and loosen. Has a level, storage for a driver bit, magnetic tray on the base to hold loose screws. I like the weight and how it fits my hand. It has enough power to drill large holes through oak.

Ryobi Impact Driver P234GImpact driver is variable speed, has locking chuck for  standard  1/4″ hex bits. It also comes with a 3/8 inch socket adapter for driving lag bolts, etc.. It acts like a regular variable speed drill until it meets resistance. Then it switches over to impact mode, giving it more torque. It really snugs fasteners down. Works great on lag bolts and fasteners.

This kit is a great addition to the tool collection of the  DIYer. I sold my 2 year old nicad drill when I got this one as it was such an improvement I didn’t want to be bothered with the old technology. Especially the nicads rapid draining when stored. Hope this review helps.

My youtube video of the un-boxing is here.

Air Conditioner Problems Before Calling a Repairman

You turn on the thermostat for your Central Air Conditioner. Instead of cool air, you get warm air coming from the vents. You go outside to see if the fan on the compressor is running. It is not. Before you call the repairman, there is something you can try, to fix the A/C yourself. DIY Air Conditioner repair. This happened to me recently. Of course it was a really hot day and I had nothing to loose.

First off, I am not an electrician or A/C technician. The circuits are high voltage and if you do something stupid like work on equipment with the power on , and the voltage goes through your heart, stopping it, you could die! Do not attempt if you have any doubts.Breaker Panel

You are going to check the fuses. Before that, check that the circuit breaker at the main panel is not tripped for the A/C. Reset it if it is. Central Air is usually the second largest breaker in the panel. In this case it is a 50 amp breaker in a 100 amp panel. Then try turning on the A/C at the thermostat. If it works, great you are done. If it keeps on tripping the breaker, call a repairman. If the breaker is fine, check the fuses next to the compressor. (Turn off the circuit breaker first!) Here is the fuse box next to mine. This setup is safe to work on, as the whole fuse-block pulls straight out. Yours may be different. Mark which side is up to make it easy to re-insert correctly.



Flipping it over you see the fuses in the block. This is a 220 Volt circuit so there are two. Fuses can go bad over time, because of heating and cooling. Like a light bulb. To test the fuses I am using volt/ohm meter. Any do-it yourself handy person should have one of these. This is a $5 one from Harbor Freight. They sell them at Walmart too. In this case I am using it to check continuity.

Testing fuseIMG_1508


Using the 200 ohm scale (the scale with the omega symbol) I clip the leads to each end of one fuse. Do not hold in place with your fingers, you will get a false reading! This fuse is reading 3.4 ohms resistance. So this fuse is OK. Current can flow through it. Checking the next one the meter reads a “1” all the way to the left. This means the fuse is blown. No current can flow through it. If this is the case for you. You have found the culprit. Replace the fuse with the same  type. Pry out the blown fuse out of the clip and take it  to the store and match it. In this case it is a slow blow fuse. They cost more than the regular ones, but that is what is needed.



After you insert the new one, put the block back into the box, close the lid, turn back on the breaker and see if the A/C works. If it does hooray! If not, or it works for awhile and blows the fuse again, or the fuses tested okay- call a repairman.

Another thing it can be is the contactor or relay inside the unit. I have had ants crawl in there and foul it up. But, that is more involved than I can get into on this blog. There may be a video on you tube if you want to tackle it.