Quick fix-ups: Fancy moldings or new cabinet doors


Q: I want to dress up our plain kitchen cabinets. The wood is in good condition, but the doors are flat and smooth. I'd like to add moldings to the front of the doors. Where can I get decorative moldings and how is this done?

A: Decorative moldings are available from the Woodworkers' Store l21801 Industrial Blvd., Rogers, Minn. 55374 (catalog, $2). The moldings are sold in 48-inch strips in a variety of woods. Premitered, curved corners are also available. The moldings are generally fastened to a flat surface with glue and/or small nails called brads. Squares or rectangles can be formed, or curved corners can be used to give a more distinctive appearance. A miter box and fine-toothed saw is needed to accurately cut the joints.

Another way to dress up a blah kitchen is to replace cabinet doors and drawer fronts. Ready-to-finish doors and drawer fronts, with raised panels, are available in several sizes and wood from Trend Lines, 375 Beacham St., Chelsea, Mass. 02150 catalog, $2).

An excellent book that offers other ideas for fixing up your kitchen is "Kitchens: Design, Remodel, Build," by James A. Hufnagel ($9.95 paperback, Creative Homeowner Press). The book is available at some bookstores or can be ordered from the publisher by calling (800) 631-7795.

Q: Some candle wax dripped onto an old wood bench in my home and formed a thick blob. I value the bench highly and am afraid I'll damage the wood if I scrape the wax off. Any ideas?

A: Put some ice cubes in a plastic bag, tie the bag shut so it doesn't drip, and form the ice bag over and around the wax. This will harden the wax enough so that you should be able to break most of it off with your fingers. Scrape off residue with a plastic auto scraper -- the type used to scrape ice from windshields; if used carefully, the scraper should not damage the wood.

Finally, blot up any remaining traces of wax with a soft cloth moistened with mineral spirits (paint thinner). Mineral spirits is flammable, so use it in a well-ventilated area away from flames and sparks.

Q: Our redwood deck was treated with an oil stain about eight years ago, but the wood has since developed some small cracks and some boards have cupped. What can I do about this?

A: Redwood is a durable wood that resists rot, but like other woods it needs protection from water, which causes the type of damage you describe. Many oil stains repel water, but eight years is too long between treatments. Give the wood a fresh coat of water-repellent oil stain now and renew it about every three years.

You might be able to flatten the cupped boards by using deck screws to pull the curved wood flat against the supporting structure.

Q: The cement is breaking away from the joint where the flue pipe of our gas heater enters the chimney. Is there any type of sealer I can use to fix this?

A: You can get special high-temperature cement and sealants at many stores that sell stoves and accessories. Check under "stoves" in your yellow pages for a dealer near you.

Be sure and repair the joint before the heating season starts, since cracks or gaps in a flue pipe can let dangerous combustion gases enter your house.

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