Q: I'm planning on stripping and refinishing four antique pine captain's chairs, but one of them needs a repair. A rung on one of the seats has split in half. What's the best way to fix it?
A: "Before you start any repair work, you're going to have to strip the piece completely of any finish or stain," says Chris Maciel of Old Way Furniture Co. in Brea. "After you get down to the bare wood, you have two alternatives. If the bad rung can be pulled apart, you can force wood glue in there and clamp it back together; or if that's not possible, you'll have to disassemble the whole chair to get to the rung.
"When gluing, wipe any excess glue with a wet rag to make sure you get it off. Any dried glue on the wood will keep it from staining correctly. Also, don't directly apply a clamp to the piece you're gluing. Put something between the clamp and the piece--like a board or a piece of wood. And make sure you've got it clamped tight enough to hold but not too tight so you're damaging the rung."
Q: We're considering finishing our garage to turn it into a playroom for our children, but in looking at the materials I'd need, I'm confused by all of the designations for the different grades of plywood. How do you figure what they mean?
A: "First of all, there's construction-grade plywood, commonly known as CDX," says Jim Gorman of Rancho Lumber Co. in Westminster. "This means that the face is graded 'C,' it has some voids in it and it's a little rough. The back side is 'D,' which means it's rougher and has some larger voids in it. The 'X' refers to an exterior glue that's used to make it.
"The next highest grade is CDX-PTS, which means the CDX board has been 'plugged and touch-sanded' to give it a nicer look with no holes or voids. Then you'll find ACX, which is an interior grade of plywood that has an excellent 'A'-rated face, a 'C' backing and it's made with exterior glue. The best plywood you can find would be ABX, which is essentially two excellent sides, with the 'A' being slightly better than the 'B.'
"If you're working with a lot of close tolerances, it's important to note that plywood that's been plugged and touch-sanded may have slightly different dimensions. For instance, if you compared a three-eighths piece of PTS and a three-eighths piece of AC, the AC would be exactly three-eighths of an inch, while the PTS would be just under, by maybe one-eighth of an inch."
Q: I've got a patch of lawn in the back yard that I'd like to replace with sod. How do I go about preparing the soil?
A: "First, you've got to remove the existing lawn, chemically or physically," says Tom Berg of American Landscape Supply in Huntington Beach. "After that, you rototill it 4 to 6 inches deep, and you usually mix it with a redwood compost or a mix of compost and gypsum.
"The next step is upgrading the soil with a rake, trying to get it as level as possible. Then you water-roll it with a roller to compact the soil again. At that point, you sprinkle a starter fertilizer on top. Then the sod is laid down in a checkerboard pattern. You've got to remember to water extensively during this period to get the sod to take."
Q: Our pool has some plaster that's crumbled on one side about 3 feet below the waterline. It doesn't look like a tough job, but I don't want to drain the pool down to that point to work on it. Will some sort of underwater patch work?
A: "Many of the underwater plasters we've seen don't work that well," says Andy Aguirre of Aguirre Pool Plastering in Fullerton. "They have to be mixed correctly. We've developed our own blend of plaster that works better, but it's not easy working on a patch with a snorkel and mask--or, if it's deeper, with scuba gear. Get the patch at your pool supply store, and mix it and apply it to the spot as per the directions."