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INSIDE & OUT : Yard Tree Seldom Makes the Cut


Q. We have a huge cut-leaf maple tree in our back yard that needs to be cut down because it's so large. We'd like to try to use the wood to make a cabinet, bed or some other piece of furniture rather than just burn it in the fireplace. What's the process?


A. It's not going to be easy to carry out your plan, especially in this part of the country, says Jim Gorman of Rancho Lumber in Westminster.

There really aren't lumber mills around here, and there aren't many facilities around to break up the wood for you. You might be able to find someone with a band saw who can do the job. The wood would have to be cut into pieces and dried, or the logs can be dried out and then cut.

Mills are able to give the wood a "straight line rip," which gives a straight edge from which to make boards. New lumber is generally not cut to exact dimensions. For instance, if you want one-inch planks, it might be cut at 1 1/8 inches. This allows the pieces to be "dressed" or finished on an electric planer.


Q. I'd like to cover the translucent plastic panels of our shower stall with cloth curtains, yet I'm not sure how to secure them at the bottom. I'd like to do this without drilling holes into the aluminum frame or the panels. Any ideas?

C.L.C, Fountain Valley

A. Probably the best way to fasten them would be to use Velcro strips, says Santa Ana interior designer Carol Dean.

Or you may be better off attaching small curtain rods to the frame with screws and stretching the fabric across them. That will ensure that they don't get tossed around, and it will probably give you a neater look.


Q. I almost fainted last week when, while cleaning my rings and jewelry over the sink, a couple of items fell and almost dropped into the garbage disposal. I'm going to be more careful in the future, but I'd like to know if there's a trap or an easy access into the disposal if something falls into it.

G.D., San Juan Capistrano

A. The best way to get something out is to use your hands, especially if they're small, says Manny Gwartz of B.J. Discount Plumbing and Heating Supply in Garden Grove. Make sure you unplug the unit from under the sink, and then reach around to see if you can pull it up. If not, you'll have to remove the top flange, the bottom trap, and the drain from the air gap if you have a dishwasher. Then turn the unit upside down and let it fall out.


Q . We recently bought a house with stucco walls that are covered with ivy. It has been extremely tough to remove. What's the best way to get rid of it without damaging the stucco?

W.C., Dana Point

A. You'll probably want to start by getting some good gloves and a wire brush, says Jim Craig of Decratrend Paints in Anaheim. Pull and scrape off what you can, then rent a water blaster. These can shoot water at around 3,000 pounds per square inch, and are effective at removing anything on the exterior of your home, including bubbled and chipped paint if you're preparing the exterior for a paint job. You have to be careful, though, not to remove the stucco itself.


Q. I'm having a problem with water spots on the glass of windows that have screens. I've tried a number of products, including vinegar and ammonia, but nothing has worked. What else can I try?

J.U., Mission Viejo

A. This happens sometimes on windows that have been hit by sprinkler water, says Tammy Griffith of B & D Glass in Orange. Many people don't regularly clean the exterior side of their windows and, over time, they get hit by sprinkler water and water deposits develop. Try spraying them again with a vinegar and water solution or one of the foaming glass cleaners on the market. Then take a new, sharp razor blade and try scraping the spots off.

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