Pro Tips

Potting spring plants and flowers

Here in Montana, it’s commonly thought that Memorial Day marks the beginning of the “safe” time to plant flowers and certain types of vegetables (some types of vegetables grow better in the cooler months of the spring and the fall). The dangers of frost after Memorial Day are, usually, past, and almost every plant will keep outside both day and night. For those of you who don’t have a big enough area to tend a seasonal garden, you can plant a non-permanent garden in pots and planters. And King’s Ace Hardware is stocked with pots and planters that differ in size and shape, even material. And how should you know which type will work best at your home? Here’s a few of the options, and a few helpful tips to help you plant your own garden, successfully.

Types of pots and planters

Pots and Planters can be built from most any material, but the most commonly found are ones made from plastic, ceramic, or terracotta. And there are advantages/disadvantages to using all three. Plastic pots come in various colors and styles. Plastic is durable, and can both heat and or cool quickly, depending. Because plastic is so durable, it’s often made with more drain holes than terracotta or ceramic. However, plastic doesn’t have an eclectic, earthy look that many people are looking for in a pot or planter. Terracotta, on the other hand, looks earthy and beautiful, although it’s not nearly as durable as plastic. Also, terracotta tends to soak up some of the water, so the plants will have to be watered frequently. Ceramic pots are beautiful, but, like terracotta, are somewhat fragile. Ceramic also keeps an even temperature, and comes in a variety of colors and styles.

 

Organize your own planter

Purchase enough plants to cover the soil of your planter, at least make it invisible from a distance. The arrangement of the plants can be to any style of your liking. Think creatively and have fun with the project. And if you have any questions as to what to plant or how to plant it, speak with the experts at the King’s Ace Hardware.

 

 

Keeping your Tools and Hardware Organized

Like many things, we tend to collect different tools and hardware. Some of the hardware we buy we rarely use, one or maybe two projects, and then it’s set aside in its baggie or tin, lost and forgotten. Oftentimes nails and screws migrate and mingle in our tool boxes, leaving us the guesswork as to which size was which. But there’s a better way. Hopefully the following tips and tricks to staying organized will save you time on your next big project.

Bulk Storage

Many of us have a favorite nail or screw size, something that we go to repeatedly. For bulk storage, consider cutting the top off a jug—milk, laundry detergent, etc.—to hold the bulk items. The jug can be set on a shelf somewhere, easily accessible. For medium-sized bulk storage consider using jars. You can mark right on the lid of the jar the contents and size. Jars can also be stored hanging vertically beneath a shelf. Just seat the jar lid into the bottom of the shelf with a screw. Magnets also work well for attaching storage items vertically. For smaller bulk storage use muffin tins or small plastic cups, things that can be easily marked and stored. Muffin tins work great, but there’s still a problem of migration, so when you’re storing items in muffin tins, make sure that the hardware stored is not so much alike, that it becomes indiscernible if it does migrate.

Tool Storage

Oftentimes we have more money wrapped up into our tools than we do our hardware. Tools should be cared for. One option is to invest in a tool chest, something big made of metal or plastic. Medium-sized tool chests can fit on a shelf or workbench, while larger sizes are usually mounted on casters for easy access and portability around the garage or workshop. Another option that works with some tools, tools that have immediate use like a hammer or a pair of pliers, is to hang pegboard or wall board on the wall of your garage or workshop.

Hopefully these tips will help to keep your home workshop organized, and if you have any more questions as to how to better organize your home workshop, come in and talk with the experts at King’s Ace Hardware today.

Clogged Bathroom Sink

One of the most common plumbing issues is a clogged bathroom sink. And, what most people don’t realize, is that with a few tools, and a little knowledge as to how the components of the sink work, anyone can unclog one, easily.

Start by making sure that the stopper (also called the pop-up assembly)—the part of the sink responsible for allowing water to pass into the drain, or, when closed, to keep the water in the sink basin—is extending up high enough to allow water to pass down into the drain. Sometimes the linkage responsible for lifting the stopper has loosened somewhat, and is unable to lift it.

If the stopper is functioning properly, then it’s time to remove it to further investigate the actual drain. Remove the stopper by disconnecting it. If the sink is a part of a vanity, use a bucket to catch any excess water. Looking underneath you will see how the pop-up assembly connects to the main drain pipe, and you should disconnect it, by removing the nut on the main drain pipe.

With the stopper disconnected, take both the stopper and the pop-up assembly (the little arm connected to the drain pipe) and clean them. Oftentimes the stopper will be gunky with hair and toothpaste, and simply cleaning it, will get the sink up and running again. If, however, the blockage is somewhere further down the drain pipe you have a choice of two tools: One is a plastic toothed device that can be inserted down into the drainpipe, where it will extend all the way through the curves in the trap, and, when removed, its teeth will grab at any hair or debris.

If the clog is further, you’ll want to purchase a drain snake (a drain snake is a purchase every homeowner should consider, because with one, you can clear most any clog in any drain in the house) and the drain snake can be deployed with a hand-turned crank (there are power augurs for rent at Ace for the tough jobs).

If you have any further questions as to how to unclog your bathroom’s drain, speak with a pro at Ace Hardware as to which tools would best suit your needs, and get hands-on advice, if need be, as to how to use them.

How To Repair A Hole In The Drywall

Holes, dents, and chips in drywall can happen easily. How to repair the damage is determined, usually, by the size of the hole. Here are three ways to repair a damaged wall, with holes ranging from a very small chip or nail hole, to a doorknob sized hole.

How To Repair A Hole In The Drywall

Small holes in the drywall are simple to repair, and, if you take your time, and use the right tools, you can make the hole virtually invisible in little time and with little effort. First, you will need joint compound (spackling is commonly used because it’s cheap and fool proof) and you will need a putty knife or dry wall knife—these come in all sizes, although they work in the same manner. With a putty knife, work the spackling into the hole or chip, don’t be bashful about the amount you put on the wall, make sure you use enough to fill the small hole, and then, when the hole is filled, place the putty knife’s edge flat against the wall just above the hole you’ve filled, and run the knife down over the spackling, and the knife will lift free the excess.

Bigger holes involve the same process as smaller, but more equipment is needed to patch them. For a hole, up to doorknob sized, you can purchase at Ace a wire patch that acts as a support over the hole. The patch comes as a square, the center of which is wire-like-mesh, with adhesive around the edges, and place the patch over the hole. Then use the spackling over the patch. Cover the entire patch with spackling, and again run the knife on its edge down through the spackling to flatten it, removing the excess. Wait for the spackling to dry, and then sand down flat any ridges in the spackling, and then add as many skim coats as needed to completely cover the patch, each time sanding (also as needed) to keep the spackling flat to the wall.

If you have any questions, speak with your Ace Pro at the King’s Ace Hardware as to which tools would be best for the job at your home.

March Time To Start Getting Ready For Spring

March in Montana is the intermediary month, the month when we can still get a deluge of eight inches of blizzarding snow, or days creeping well-into the fifties and sixties—sometimes both in the same day. March is a great month for many outdoor projects, projects that most of us put off until the warmer months of April, even May. But did you know that March is a great month for building those garden beds? Raised garden beds are simple to build, and don’t require a lot of room (you don’t need acres of land to have a garden, the simplest backyard, even patio will work well, so keep reading if you want to know how.) Also, March and the beginning of April are good months to begin installing sod into the dead or worn patches in your yard, and we’re going to show you how.

Sod

Most of us wait until the summer to start laying sod. Oftentimes the sod season correlates with the underground sprinklers turning back on, but oftentimes this is late in the season, and will require a lot of water to keep the newly integrated sod patch soaked. To prepare the location for the sod, take a shovel, a spade shovel works great, although a flat shovel with a sharp edge could also work well, and square off the area, digging down a few inches below the grade of the grass—remember that grass has roots. Then level the area, a few inches below the grade, taking out any rocks or debris that could potentially get in the way of the roots growth. Then just lay the sod and water. Laying sod is a pretty simple project. If you have any questions as to which tools would best suit your next sod project, or if you simply need a pair of work gloves to prevent blisters, stop in and speak with the experts at your local Ace Hardware.

 

Raised Garden Beds

Raised Garden Beds are simple and easy to build. First, you’ll need some lumber. 2×6’s or 2×4’s work great. You’ll first want to determine the size of your garden. One way is to consider the livable space for your garden plants to be a square foot (obviously larger plants like zucchini require more space). For smaller spaces, build the width to be at least one foot, two works great, and three feet is usually the maximum, because it does get more difficult to reach far enough into the garden to tend the plants in the middle. Then take a tape measure outside and determine then length. Then visit your local Ace Hardware for decking screws, at least three inch, and any tools you will need to build the frame. Oftentimes a circular saw will work just fine, although if you have never used a circular saw, speak with the experts at Ace and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines with the product. You can also purchase fences that will keep the circular saw tracking over the board. A chop saw also works well, and in some regards the setup is quicker and easier. If you have any other questions, the experts at Ace Hardware are ready to answer them.

It’s Time To Start Planting Seeds Indoors For The Perfect Summer Garden

It may seem strange to you to hear us talking about gardening in February. But, we are. Did you know that for a spring harvest of certain vegetables (those vegetables which are adapted to growing in colder weather) February is the perfect month to start? How do you start a garden in February in Montana you might ask? The answer is simple: you sow the seeds indoors.


Starting seeds indoors gets you a huge jump on the spring growing season, and even the summer growing season—for summer time plants consider sowing those seeds indoors in the spring, and the will be well-established in time for their appropriate planting (In Montana everything can, usually, be planted after Memorial Day weekend—although if you keep an eye on the weather report, a week or two sooner.)

It’s easy to start your plants indoors

To start with you’ll need a place to sow the seeds. Common seed starting trays work very well for this, and you will need to fill the trays with an appropriate blend of potting soil. These seed trays will need to have a stable place to sit, and a good wire shelf works terrific, and, also, because you will also need a light source (you can buy expensive grow lights, or you can buy simple shop lights), this type of shelving works terrific to hang lighting. Also, you will need some type of timer to control the hours of light your plants are getting (this is not a necessity, but your plants will need close to fifteen hours of light every day). The last thing needed is some type of fan, preferably a small room fan, to blow air on the plants, keeping plants dry and in an environment, much like the one outside (it’s important to induce these same types of stresses on the plant as they would receive in the outdoors).

Everything’s set-up, now what?

Depending on your skill or general knowledge as a gardener (If you feel lacking in this department, remember that gardening doesn’t have to be difficult, and the helpful experts at Ace can answer most any question you have) you can sow multiple seeds, multiple types, etc. Once the seeds are sowed, they will need constant watering—more at the beginning—and, especially if you are using shop lights as a light source, keep the rack near a window with near constant sunlight—a window with a southern exposure.

Get your starter seeds at your Local Ace Hardware Store today!

Does Your Furnace Need Help? Try an Electric Heater

The winter months can be downright cold, and furnaces throughout Billings are forced to work extra hard to keep the temperature inside our homes tolerable. But even an efficiently operating furnace might struggle to combat the cold spots in a home, the spots where there’s a subtle draft, etc. Maybe the furnace itself struggles to heat the entire home, or the ductwork is inefficient, does that mean it’s time for a new furnace? Time to add more ductwork? And it’s so invasive and costly to put in extra ductwork or buy a new furnace. What should you do? Ace Hardware is ready to help with a few options that are both economical and simple.

Electric Heaters

Electric heat is almost one hundred percent efficient.  This means that the electrical power that’s used to run the machine is turned almost one-hundred percent into heat energy. And the heat is localized to one particular room, which means that you can customize the temperature throughout your home, and, by supplementing heat in the areas which need it most, your furnace will have to work less. Electric heaters are also incredibly easy to install: most of the models you will find sold at Ace are powered simply by an electrical cord, or the unit itself is plugged directly into an outlet. The heating unit—usually a tower-like structure on a base—is moved easily around the room, and its portability is also makes it noninvasive.

Electric heaters also vary in heating output to more easily suit your needs. Ace carries small electric heaters, something just slightly larger than a birdhouse, and really large electric heaters that have high-outputs. Most models have adjustable thermostats, and some even have automatic shutoffs. There’s personal-sized electric heaters, which look like a small box that plugs directly into an outlet. These small heaters are meant to heat things only in its vicinity. Most models of personal-sized heaters have also a programmable thermostat and an automatic shutoff or timer.

If you’re needing more warmth this winter, stop in to Ace Hardware and speak to one of Ace’s experts on the model of electric heater that would best suit your needs.

 

Snow Shovels & Snow Blower Tips

Winter is here! We’re just a few weeks away from Christmas, and even the start of a new year! Tis the season for many things, including winter weather. Cold, short days and snow. It’s the time of season to drag out those snow shovels and snow blowers to prepare. But what if you don’t have a snow shovel or a snow blower? Your local Ace Hardware is here to help, and the expert staff can help you to find the model of shovel or snow blower that will best suit your needs. Here, however, is a general idea of the types of shovels and snow blowers you’ll find in the aisles of your local Ace Hardware when you come in.

Snow Shovels

All snow shovels are equal right? Wrong, well, mostly wrong. Snow shovels differ by the size of the shovel’s head, as well as the type of material from which the shovel is made: primarily either metal or plastic. If you are strong and capable of moving huge amounts of snow, then a wide shovel head may work for you. Important also to remember the size of the shoveling job you’ll have day in and out; big job, big shovel, etc. Metal shovel heads are going to be more durable, however the metal heads will be heavier, and weight is something to consider. Pick up the shovel in the store, then imagine the shovel filled with a scoop-full of snow, too heavy? Plastic is, usually, a much lighter alternative.

Snow Blowers

Snow blowers are wonderful tools. They can help you to clear a driveway with relatively little effort for your part, and in relatively little time. Snow blowers operate as either electric, cordless-electric, or gas. Most electric snow blowers are considered single-stage and they are great tools for clearing small to medium spaces (most any driveway size), and they are best suited to clearing eight inches of snow or less. Single stage snow blowers are well-suited to most suburban jobs, and are the perfect tool for the average homeowner. Two-Stage Blowers are big and powerful; they are capable of moving great amounts of snow in excess of eight inches. Usually two-stage snow blowers run on a gas-oil combination.

If you have any questions as to the type of tool you need for clearing the snow from your driveways and walkways, make sure to speak with the expert staff at your local Ace Hardware.

Which Saw for Which Project?

Home improvement tasks can seem daunting, and, often, what makes them that way, is that we’re not familiar with the tools needed to do the job. This is especially true when a project calls for the use of a saw to make precise cuts. If you have never worked around a type of power saw it can seem a little intimidating, both in the use of the saw, as well as in knowing which saw will work best for your project.

The two most common types of power saws needed to make straight, common cuts are circular saws and table saws.  There are others, but the others have a function similar to these, with variations specific to certain uses, and if you have any questions on these types of saws, come into your Local Ace Hardware and speak with our knowledgeable staff.

Circular Saws

Circular saws are the workhorse on most any jobsite. At almost every jobsite you’ll see someone using one of these saws, and that’s for good reason. Circular Saws can make almost any cut needed, both into sheet goods and into thick hardwoods.
The advantages of this type of saw being that the saw blade can be easily changed out, it’s portable, running on either electrical power or battery power. With certain care given to precision, it’s easier to make straight clean cuts. To keep the cuts straight, you can also purchase fences which hold the saw on a linear plane throughout the cut, so that you’re not relying on your own steady hand to make it.

Table Saws

Table saws are great additions for any DIY-er’s workshop, because table saws can be quickly adjusted to make almost any different type of cut quickly, without the setup needed for a circular saw. Not all table saws are made the same however, and will vary depending on your needs of precision.

A cabinet maker’s table saw is an incredibly precise tools with precision flattened cast iron work surfaces, whereas a contractor’s table saw, may have cast iron in only some places, and utilize some other material to compose the rest. If you are in the business of building professional cabinets or doing fine woodworking, a contractor’s saw may not best suit you, but for the average DIY’er, who needs the saw to make construction grade cuts into boards or sheet goods, the contractor’s saw will work just fine.

Safety

It’s important to remember to use these saw safely. A powered saw can do serious damage to you if improperly used, and, if you do decide to own one, make sure to speak with our knowledgeable staff as to how to keep yourself safe. Also, become very familiar with the manufacturer’s instructions, as to the saw’s use, and follow those instructions without deviation.

For all of your circular saw and table saw needs, please visit your Local Ace Hardware Store today!

Fall Lawn Care Tips (2)

Fall’s here, which probably means for homeowners some extra time outside caring for the lawn.  Fall is the perfect time of year to fertilize, but, also, as the leaves fall from the trees, it’s an important time to clear the lawn of them, and also to rake out any dead grasses left behind from the mulching of the lawn mower.

rakes billings mt

Leaves

A lawn all lit up with the bright colors, the oranges, yellows, and reds of fall can look beautiful, but, if the leaves are left there, it can be bad news for the grass. You could find last year’s beautiful green lawn, yellow and dead come spring. Leaves left to the lawn can trap moisture and also block the sunlight. Unfortunately, that can kill the grass beneath it, so it’s important to clean the yard with a rake or a blower. If you wait too long and the snow starts to fall it may be extremely difficult to clean the yard of the leaf mess, so get the yard cleared early.

Tools

When thinking about cleaning the yard of leaves, typically, a rake is the first tool that we reach for. However, when you stop in at your local Ace Hardware Store, there are many different rake options available: which one do you choose?

Leaf rakes, which are rakes with long, thin teeth, usually metal, are the first choice for dried leaves, or leaves freshly fallen from the trees. A leaf rake makes quick work of the leaves and, because the teeth are so narrow and typically will dig down to soil level as you rake, it will also pick up the dead grass.

You can purchase also a shrub rake, which has the appearances of a leaf rake, however the head of the rake is narrower, allowing the rake to be used between the landscaping. Also leaf blowers are excellent tools for moving leaves from one place to another.

Picking out your tools

If you have any questions about lawn maintenance, your Lawn Care Pro at Ace Hardware is ready to answer them. Your local Ace Hardware store is fully stocked with whatever type of rake you may need. Ace is here to help you with your lawn care needs. Please stop by your local Ace Hardware today for all of your Fall Lawn Care needs!