Q. I've got an old rocking chair that I'd like to fix myself, however I'm baffled at how to do it. The top of the chair that holds the spines has come off, and I'm not really sure whether I should glue it or try to screw it in.
A. "Never use screws or nails when you're working with rockers," says Viken Najarian of Cedar Furniture in Santa Ana. "They will weaken the wood and cause it to break. The first thing you have to do is check all of the parts and see if they're intact and usable. If part of the top or one of the spines is broken, you may have to redo your work once it breaks again.
"It's best to line up the spines and the top and see if you can get them in easily," Najarian says. "If necessary, use a plastic mallet to tap it in. Then take it off and put just a bit of glue in each hole. Use alphatic resin glue, available at most hardware stores, because it dries well with wood. You may need clamps to hold the top in place, however if you're lucky enough to have it fit well, you may be able to tap it into place with the mallet and let it hold. Let the glue dry thoroughly overnight.
Q. I have periodic problems with a laundry drain plugging up, and it's a real messy job to open the trap, insert the drain auger and try to crank out the blockage. I've heard of those rubber constrictors you can use to clear a drain, but I'm afraid of them bursting through the pipe. Can that happen?
A. "They're just rubber and they'll burst before a metal drain will," says Jim McDougall of Clark Dye hardware in Santa Ana. "They're probably the easiest and cleanest way to clear a drain. First you attach the bottom to your garden hose then push the hose and constrictor down the trap, then turn the hose on.
"What happens is water is forced through the opposite end with a lot of force as the rubber section, which is filling with water, expands and seals off the drain. The water is building up pressure and has nowhere to go but past the blockage. However, if that doesn't work, if the blockage is too solid, you'll have to use an auger to get it out."
Q. We have a large painting above our bed that is secured with two moly bolts. However, I'm still not sure whether it will hold up in an earthquake. What other ways can we use to make it more secure?
A. "You can get security hangers that attach the frame tightly to the wall," says Lorinda Williams of Frame Works in Anaheim. "There are two fittings that are secured to each side of the frame and to the wall, as well one on the bottom of the frame. The two on the side are dropped down to attach to the wall, then the one on the bottom locks with a wrench. You can use them to secure pictures or mirrors from earthquakes or burglaries."
Q. I've got a five-inch diameter hole in the drywall in our family room that I need to patch. What's the best way to do it?
A. "One way is to take newspaper, wad it up and stuff it into the hole," says Mike Garrity of Barr Lumber in Huntington Beach. "Then you can use a patch, like Fix All or Quick Fix, that fits into the hole and take a putty knife and smooth it out. The other option, if the hole's too big, is to cut it out of the wall stud to stud, then replace it with a matching piece using drywall tape and putty to smooth it out over the wall."