Please note – you’ll find the links to the products from this article at the end of the text.
Putting up Christmas lights kinda sucks. It’s a pain that we have to deal with every year but I love Christmas and think it’s worth doing. After my wife and I spent about 8 hours putting up Christmas lights last year using hundreds of clips and moving the ladder around dozens of times and then not even being all that pleased with how it turned out, I decided there’s gotta be a better way.
I’m going to show you the method I use that, once you get it set up, allows you to put up Christmas Lights in about an hour each year – and the best part? Once it’s set up, areas that are less than 25’ high don’t even require a ladder.
Here’s what’s involved:
Now let’s take a look at how you get everything set up and some of the pointers that will save you a lot of time and frustration.
I started out by researching what others had done and I discovered the Crevier System on YouTube and wanted to try it out but I couldn’t help but think that I could be just a bit lazier and not use a ladder at all. I live in a one-story rambler and, using my new method, was able to put all of my lights up without using a ladder at all, once the initial setup was complete.
The first step is to go around and measure all of the sections where you want to put lights up. Keep in mind that you need to measure the areas of open line, where you don’t want lights but where the line needs to extend from one section to the next, like from a horizontal roof line to an eve.
With our dimensions listed out, it’s time to cut 1/2” PVC pipe to match each section. You can cut it with any type of saw, or you can use a $12 pair of PVC pipe cutters. You can buy 1/2” PVC pipe in 10’ sections for about $2, and don’t forget to pick up a few 1/2” couplings in case you have sections that are longer than 10’. As you cut each piece, I recommend labeling them with their length and their order to make it easy to line them up later.
Once the pipes are cut into sections, it’s time to strap the Christmas lights to them. For this project, I highly recommend getting separate lines and bulbs. By doing so you can replace the bulbs any time and you can even reconfigure the colors. It’s also to customize the lines – like if you need to split off to go up to an eve while the main line continues on, for example. You can also easily remove a light socket or two as needed. I shopped around and found a pretty decent deal on Amazon for 100ft sections of 12” spaced C9 stringers as well as Red and White C9 LED bulbs. That said, standard lights will work just fine with this method as well – including icicle lights or any other kind that lays out in a line.
To attach the lights, start at the end with the plug and work your way down the line, making sure to keep your pipe sections in order, and remembering to leave spaces of line where you need to. I tried using 4” zip ties at first but found that 6” ties work way better. I also really appreciated being able to use a zip tie gun as it saved my fingers from having to tighten and clip the hundreds of zip ties involved in this kind of project. It was well worth $15. At the end of the line, just cut the cord and apply a waterproof wire nut to seal it off.
If you do end up with section where you just want the power line and don’t want the sockets, you actually remove the sockets pretty easily with these types of stringers. Just squeeze the back of the socket off and they should pop off, leaving the power line in tact.
With our sections of pipe cut and all lit up, it’s time make clips. As it turns out, 3/4” PVC makes an excellent clip for 1/2” PVC to snap into. To make the clips, we first need to remove a section of the pipe. I played around with cutting out different amounts and found that removing about 1/3 was perfect. I used my sliding mitre saw to cut two parallel lines in the pipe but you can also do this with a hand saw, hack saw, table saw, skil saw, dremel or a router – whatever you have handy. If you know someone who has a sliding mitre saw, however, it does make this job pretty easy. Once you’ve removed the section from the 3/4” pipe, you’re ready to cut it into 1” sections to turn it into clips using either a mitre saw or the PVC pipe cutters.
The last thing we need to do before our clips are done is to predrill them a countersink screw, so that the screws don’t jut out into the clip. I recommend drilling the holes close to the open side, rather than in the middle. That way, when you attach them to the house, the opening can point downward, which makes it easier to clip the pipe sections in from the ground.
Now it’s time to prep our eves. Get the ladder out and predrill and insert some 3-4” hooks at the peaks of the eves and on corners to hold the various sections in place. Think about how the sections will hang and place them on corners and areas that make the most sense. While you’re up there, attach the clips every 3 feet or so. Remember to point the opening downward and try to keep them nice and straight. Also, be sure to give yourself enough room around obstacles, like gutter drains and light fixtures.
The last step in our preparation is getting a pole ready with three types of endings. I used a 3/4” PVC section duct taped together for grabbing and pushing the pipes into their clips. I used another 3/4” PVC section shaped with a small opening to grab the zip ties between lines and hook them into the mounted hooks. Lastly, I fashioned a small hook out of some angle brackets to use to take the PVC sections down. For the pole, I just used a 10’ metal electrical conduit and used a second one with a coupling for the really tall areas.
With the sections wired up and the clips and hooks in place, it’s time for the fun part – putting the lights up. I find it’s easiest to have someone helping out by holding the bulk of the sections of pipe while you hook one joint at a time onto the corresponding hook on the house. You can even reach some pretty tall areas with the two poles together. I mostly focus on getting them all in place first, them I go back and use the first attachment to push the pipes into the clips. From there, I push the lights that need it into position, and we’re done!
I recommend storing these in the garage or attic on some hangers. Keeping your sections no longer than about 15ft is ideal for storage.
That’s it! These lights take a little while to set up the first time but after that, putting up the Christmas lights each year will be way easier than it used to be.
If you have a way to make this process even better or easier, leave a comment! I don’t claim to have all the answers and would love to hear what you think.
You’ve probably tried caulking before and know that it can be pretty tough to get good results. Caulking is messy, it sticks to your fingers and your clothes and it’s easy to make things look pretty bad. After years of having to caulk everything from tubs to sinks to trim, I’ve finally come across a handful of tips that make all the difference. Let’s dig in.
The first thing we need to take a look at is choosing the right caulk or sealant for the job that you’re doing. When you’re at the hardware store, you’ll see dozens and dozens of different types of caulks and sealants. It really comes down to two main categories. The first is latex-based sealants like Big Stretch. Now like it shows here, you can use this to caulk and seal your windows, your doors, or your siding, internal or external; but I love to use it on trim.
When you’re working around areas that have excessive moisture, you’re going to want to use a silicone or silicone alternative like Lexel. This will keep the mildew and moisture away.
The next tip to get professional results is to get a dripless gun. Here’s why. When you’re using standard gun and you release the handle, the pressure stays on, it continues to squeeze the caulking out of the tube. This doesn’t put you in control, whereas with a dripless gun, when you release the trigger, it backs off just a little bit making it so that material only comes out when you want it to.
Our next tip is making the right cut for the gap. The size of the cut that you make in the opening of the tube should depend on the width of the gap that you’re trying to seal. I recommend using a utility knife or a sharp blade to get a nice, sharp and smooth tip. If the opening is too small, cut it again. Just about every caulking gun I’ve seen comes with a tip cutter or spout cutter in the handle. You just squeeze the trigger and you can use it to cut off the tip of the caulking tube.
This is convenient, but you’re not going to get as clean or sharp of an edge as you would using a utility knife. One method for cutting the tip that I prefer is to cut the tip at an angle. The reason I like this method because every time you’re doing some caulking, you’re holding the gun at an angle.
This prevents it from stuttering and helps you get a nice smooth bead. Take a sharpie and mark the top of the angle. You can always see which direction you’re traveling in.
The final tip is to always use your finger to do the smoothing of the bead when you’re caulking. There are lots of different tools available. The problem is they get nicks and cracks in them, and that transfers directly to the work that you’re doing.
I’ve got a sample that I’ve set up and I run the tool along it, and there’s too much stuff left over, it’s pulling the caulking off, and leaves a jagged edge. If I dip my finger in warm water, and smooth it over the bead, it’s going to leave a nice, smooth result.
You can really see the difference between using a tool, and using your finger that’s been dipped in water. The goal is to smooth out what’s there- not to remove any excess.
Knowing how much material to use can be difficult. If you use too little, there won’t be enough to fill the gap, and it might pull to one side or the other as things settle. If you use too much, you’re going to ruin the contour of the trim or the two pieces that you’re joining together. Ideally, you want to end up somewhere in the middle, like you see in this diagram.
A bonus tip, when you’re using silicone based caulks or sealants, you can use painters tape to get a nice clean line. On this sink application, I’m applying painter’s tape about a quarter inch on the sink and on the counter itself.
For this particular application, I’m using a pretty thick bead of white Lexel. When using silicone or rubberized caulking, be sure to wet your finger in SOAPY water and run it across while the tape is still on. Silicones and silicone alternatives like Lexel are more tacky than latex-based caulks so the soap in the water helps to get a smooth finish when you drag your finger across it. As soon as I’m done with that, I can remove the tape and run my finger across one more time to smooth it all out.
Now that we’ve run through all the steps, let’s put them all together. Start by making the cut on the tip of the tube, then use the needle that’s on the side of the gun to perforate the seal inside. Load the tube into the dripless gun, then turn the notch rod right side up. Give it a few squeezes, until you see some of the material coming out of the tip. I’d recommend trying to not caulk too large of a section at a time – probably about 3 or 4 feet. If we try to do too large of a section at a time, the material can get tacky, making it hard to smooth out. Dip your finger in warm water, and smooth it right out.
That’s it! Hopefully you find these tips helpful and feel a bit less suicidal next time you have to do some caulking. It’s really not too bad and can be super gratifying when you see it come out nicely. I highly encourage you to check out my video on YouTube that shows the entire process. Do you have any tips for caulking? Leave a comment and share so we can all learn a thing or two.
Ready to start framing? Check out these three videos to see the entire process. As time permits, I’ll expand this article with plans and downloadables for reference.
YouTube. It’s a behemoth to be reckoned with. It has become as common-place in our everyday lives as Google, the interwebs and the TV. You’ve heard the mind-blowing statistics, right? “There are over a billion users!” and “Over 300 hours of video are uploaded every minute!” and “YouTube gets billions of views every day!”, and many more. There’s no denying that YouTube is a media giant and shows no signs of slowing down.
For some, however, YouTube is way more than a fun place to waste some time and watch insanely wealthy 25-year-old Swedish gamers play every video game on the planet. Most of those sleep-inducing gamers are using YouTube as a regular source of income and not just any income, but passive income! I’m not a gamer and I don’t have a soothing accented voice to narrate the opening of every children’s toy on Earth, but I do make YouTube videos. And it pays. Last month, for example, I earned over $700 on YouTube and did literally nothing during that month to earn it. It’s all from videos I made in the past (please subscribe!). Let’s talk about what goes into making moolah on YouTube.
Like most content-oriented websites, YouTube only makes money if it gets views and clicks. In short, when you make a video that gets views and clicks, YouTube earns money and gives you a cut.
You’ve seen the ads all over YouTube, right? They come in the form of images, commercials and banner overlays, like these:
Advertisers pay to have those ads in front of your video-meandering eyes. Let’s say, for example, that Acme Company (you know, the guys from the Road Runner cartoons) pays Google/YouTube $1 every time somebody clicks on their ad. When a person clicks on the ad near/on one of your videos (as long as you’ve monetized your video), Google gives you 55¢ (55% of the commission). With any luck, Acme sells a pair of rocket-powered roller skates.
The rules for the pre-video commercials may vary (paid for watching the whole commercial vs paid for clicking on the commercial) but the idea is the same. Viewers click on an ad that shows on/around your video and you make money. If you can get people to watch your videos and, more importantly, to generate the clicks, you’ll start earning.
It depends. Let’s look at a real-life example. In the first six months of 2015, I had1,037,664 views on all of my videos combined. It’s important to note that YouTube doesn’t show how many clicks I had – just views. In that time, I earned $3,322.12from YouTube. If you break that down, it means I’m getting about $3.30 per 1000 views. That’s just the average, though. How much I make depends on several factors.
Here’s a side by side comparison of two of my videos that have very different earnings even though they both got a decent amount of views. The columns are:Video – Views – Minutes Watched – Earnings.
Wait – what? The first video earned $75 but had 133k views while the second earned $300 with only 86k views!? Why are they so different? Simple. The Baby Birds Founds in Grass – Rescued video became popular because of Facebook. YouTube’s analytics are pretty handy and showed me that the source of most of the views was from Facebook Shares. Facebook is awesome for getting views on the video but when it’s shared on Facebook, guess how many YouTube ads there are for people to click on? That’s right. None.
The How to Fix / Repair the Hook Timing on a Sewing Machine video received nearly all of its views on YouTube, where all of the ads are present. It also may have had product-related ads that were more likely to be clicked on.
Let’s do a bit more math and see what the earnings per 1,000 views is on these two videos.
Baby Birds: $75 earnings / 133 (133k views) = $0.56 per 1,000 views
Sewing Machine: $300 earnings / 86 (86,000 views) = $3.48 per 1,000 views
You can see that having a viral video that gets shared off of YouTube is much less likely to earn you money when compared to a video that is primarily watched onYouTube. While there are some factors that are beyond your control, the type of video and its intended audience play key roles in revenues. If you create videos that are less of a quick-watch viral type, and more of an informative or engaging type video, then they’ll likely be watched on YouTube and, therefore, earn you some money. Think about the kinds of videos you watch via social media or via third-party websites as opposed to those you watch on YouTube.com.
Everyone has something to share. A talent, a story, a sense of humor or a skill. Heck, the lack of these things has not stopped some people from earning boat loads on YouTube. My advice in this area is simple: Record what interests you. For me, I like DIY stuff and home improvement projects, so that’s what most of my videos are about. If I’m doing something that I think would be helpful or informative to others, I record it. I have a friend that makes science videos and another friend that makes videos about his twin toddlers. They’ve both done well on YouTube. If you think about the fact that “every day people watch HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF HOURS” [emphasis added] on YouTube, there’re bound to be people out there that want to watch what you create.
Need some inspiration? Just do some searches on YouTube for things you like and see what the aut0-suggestion is. See how many results each search has and try to identify niches that need filling. So that’s the what; now let’s talk about the how.
Making videos absolutely does not have to be a major production. Start simple. My brother-in-law called me up the other day because he was going to install one of those sinks that sits on the counter (vessel sinks, apparently) and thought he’d make a video about it because the one he watched was kind of terrible. I encouraged him to do the following:
OK, so you have grand plans of world domination via YouTube. Awesome. Before you get too excited, however, consider the following.
YouTube is an amazing resource for earning passive income. Every day I count my self extremely blessed to be able to make money from it. I’m a bit obsessive about checking how much money I made two days ago (YouTube’s earnings reports are always at least two days behind) and I love calculating my projected monthly earnings based on what I’ve earned so far in a given month. It’s like my personal stock market, except it never crashes.
Do you have questions? Leave a comment and I’ll be happy to help. Thanks for reading!
Mounting your TV to your wall makes it look great, frees up space and gives you a great view. The wires that hang down, however, look pretty ghetto. Here’s an explanation of how to hide those wires in the walls for only $10.
Caveat 1: This installation assumes you have mostly hollow walls behind and underneath your television. If you’re mounting the TV on an exterior wall, a wall with a fire block, a brick wall or other types of walls that present challenges, extra work will be required.
Caveat 2: In many areas, local code requires that high voltage wiring be installed, not fished through the wall. A separate electrical outlet should be installed behind the TV. To learn how to do this, see my video on adding an electrical outlet for your wall mounted TV.
OK, with that out of the way, let’s get started.
Tools Required: For this job, all you’ll need is
Step 1: Behind your TV, mark the general area where you’d like the cables to come out of/go into the wall and then the lower location of the receiving receptacle. Keep in mind that the top receptacle should be (if possible) directly above where you’ll be putting the lower receptacle. The lower receptacle should be behind your entertainment center or a/v equipment.
Step 2: Using the stud finder, check for interferences that may cause difficulty. The easiest method is to place both plates where there are no studs or fire blocks between them.
Step 3: Use the provided template for the receptacles and draw out the two cuts that you’ll be making.
Step 4: Cut out the holes using the utility knife or jab saw.
Step 5: Place the upper receptacle in the hole and screw it in the wall so that the tabs flip out and grab the drywall. Make sure they’re on there snug but don’t over tighten. Once in place, feed all appropriate wires from the top down to the lower hole and pull them through the hole.
Step 6: Feed lower wires through the receptacle, then install lower receptacle in the wall as above. Connect your wires on top and bottom and you’re good to go!
Ready to see the whole thing in action? Check out my video to watch the whole process.
If you have any questions, just leave a comment below. Here are the suggested products from Amazon for this project.
Watch band too big? Here are two ways to get that sweet new time piece fitting perfectly in no time.
The first method uses items you have around the house and just takes a few minutes.
Step 1: Put the watch on and determine how many (and which) links you’ll want to remove. You might want to mark the links with some tape so you don’t get them mixed up. Remember to keep things centered; if you need to remove four links, take two from either side.
Step 2: Place the watch on the wooden block or scrap so that the link that you want to remove is either over a hole in the block or hanging just off the edge.
Step 3: Line the push pin up with the first pin that you’ll be removing, then give it a good thwack. You may need to hit it a couple of times but the goal is to get it to peek out the other side, enough that you can get a hold of it with the pliers/tweezers.
Step 5: Take out all of the links you need to.
Step 6: Now for the glorious finish! Line the trimmer watch band back up and put the pins in part way until you can get them to line up perfectly. A couple more thwacks with the hammer and you’re good to go! Check both sides to make sure the pins are flush in the band. Pokey pins snag on everything.
If you are feeling wealthy and have a few days’ notice before you have to adjust your new watch, check out method #2.
If you’re not comfortable thwacking push-pins, it’s time to buy a nice little Watch Link Remover Tool (about $6 USD) or even a Watch Repair Kit (about $7 USD). I’m linking to ones that are available for Amazon Prime because some of the really cheap ones take weeks to arrive.
Step 1: Refer to Step 1 above.
Step 4: Repeat for the other links you want to remove.
And you’re done! Nice job, you. You deserve a pat on the back. Wear that watch proudly because you made it fit. The video below shows the whole process, using both methods. I hope this was helpful and please feel free to comment, like, subscribe and share.