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Will any lock fit my door?

Most locks come in two sizes: 2-3/8" or 2-3/4" backset. This is how far the center of the hole is away from the edge of the door. The customer needs to know this distance or purchase a lock that has an adjustable backset.

Can locks be rekeyed so that more than one uses the same key?

Locksmiths can also re-key existing or new locks to the same key. However, they have to be the same brand and use the same key blank.

How do I know which latch fits my storm door?

If you are going to use existing holes, you need to know the spacing of the holes, or there is an adjustable one available.

What is the difference between a single-cylinder and a double-cylinder deadbolt?

A single-cylinder deadbolt is key operated from the outside while a double cylinder is key operated on both sides. They both have their advantages.

What is a gunlock and how does it work?

A gunlock fits over the trigger to prevent the firing of the gun. A good gun lock will cover the trigger completely and have a quality, pin-tumbler locking mechanism.

Should I use fiberglass or aluminum screening?

Aluminum screening is more durable. It's also fireproof. However, fiberglass doesn't dent. Fiberglass is also easier to work with, but it may need to be restretched after it has been installed.

I have a hole in my screen. Can I repair it or do I need to replace it?

You can patch small holes-those 1/4" and 3/8"-with a small amount of household cement. This glue patch will be next to invisible. Larger holes up to about 3" in diameter in aluminum screen can usually be easily patched. A patch should go at least 1/2" to 1" larger all around the hole. These are either kits or just pieces of screen. Unravel a number of strands and then weave the strands through the screening and bend them tight. Plastic patches need a touch of household cement on the ends of the strands after they have been woven through.

I have small children. Will this garage door opener stop if they get in the way?

Yes, since 1990 all garage doors are required to have an optical sensor and/or a door edge sensor that will stop or reverse the door.

Will a door closer work on my heavy storm door?

A traditional screen door closer may not be strong enough. However, they make heavy-duty ones that will work. They also have the advantage of staying open automatically if they are opened all the way. Some newer doors have two closures-one on top and one on bottom.

I have miss-drilled the hole for my doorknob. Is there anything I can do to cover this mistake?

One option is to use a brass door reinforcer. This product will also increase the strength of your door.

Is there a product that makes installing a strikeplate easier?

Yes, there is an adjustable strikeplate.

Do you have a hinge that will fit my door?

The best option is to bring the old hinge in. But as a standard, an exterior door uses a hinge that is 4" long with four holes on each side. An interior door usually has a hinge that is 3-1/2" long and has three holes on each side.

Where should I install smoke detectors?

The safest recommendation is to put one in every room, but most people are not willing to do this. The simplest rule is to mount one between the bedrooms and the rest of the house, but closer to the bedrooms. If there is more than one sleeping area, each should have its own alarm. In multi-level homes, install one on each level, and if possible have them interconnected so any one unit will sound the alarm throughout the house. The basement ceiling, near the steps, is a good location for extra protection.

What is the best type of fire extinguisher to have in my kitchen and my garage?

A dry-chemical extinguisher marked general-purpose or multi-purpose is best for home use.

Do I need to worry about carbon monoxide in my home?

If you have a gas or oil furnace, dryer, refrigerator, water heater, space heater, fireplace, wood stove or gas range, then you need to be concerned. These can all be sources of carbon monoxide gas .

My smoke detector beeped last night, but there was no smoke. What is wrong with it?

This is a warning signal that the batteries are low. If your alarm is more than 10 years old, you should consider replacing it, just to make sure that you have one that is in good working order.

What is radon gas and how do I protect my family from it?

Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas that can collect in hazardous concentrations in areas like the basement. A radon detector in your basement will help keep your family safe.

Is there an easy way to move my refrigerator so I can clean behind it?

Yes, an appliance roller can be slipped under it. You can even leave it there.

What can I use to make sure my water pipe does not freeze?

Heat tapes have a thermostat on them so they know when to turn on and off. Simply wrap the pipe and plug them in.

How can I anchor something to concrete?

A newer anchor has a drill bit built into the end of a screw so that it can be driven directly into the concrete.

Which is a bigger nail - No. 6 or No. 8?

No. 8 - the bigger the number the bigger the nail.

What do the numbers - such as 8-32 mean on a machine screw?

The first number is the diameter. The bigger the number the bigger the screw. The second number is the number of threads per inch.

What type of rope should I buy?

Working strength is the most important factor.

Is there a quick way to fill a crack in my cement block foundation?

One of the easiest ways is to use expanding foam.

My cabinets have handles that have holes that are 3-1/2" apart, but I am only finding new handles that fit holes 3" apart.

Now, most pulls are generally on 3" mounting centers. You will need to drill new holes and look for pulls that are designed to cover the previous holes. There are also decorative plates that will cover the previous holes. Mount these plates under the new pulls.

What is the difference between concrete mix and sand mix?

Concrete mix has gravel in it, which makes it stronger and more durable. Sand mix is used mainly for patching or where you want a particularly smooth finish.

How long of a nail should I use?

If the board you are fastening to another is not going to bear weight, it should be a half inch longer than the board is thick. If it is going to bear weight, it should be 2-1/2 times the thickness of the material to be fastened.

What do I use to hang a plant?

For small to medium size hangings, there are kits that include a toggle and a decorative hook. These often have screws so that you do not have to use the toggle if you install it directly into a joist. For larger things, you may have to buy a large hook and toggle separately.

What does a lock washer do?

It helps to tighten the grip of the nut. If the screw needs to maintain lots of torque or if it's going to vibrate, you should consider using a lock washer.

Do I need a deadbolt?

These locks provide more security because the deadbolt latch is larger and protrudes farther into the doorframe. It can also be keyed on both sides for additional security.

Are there multiple door locks that require only one key?

Some locks come in pairs that use the same key.

Can I replace the spring on my garage door?

There are two types of systems - tension and non-tension. Tension springs have the spring in the center and a large iron roller in the middle. Because is there is so much torque, most people hire a professional to work on these. The other type has the springs on the side of the door.

Which spring fits my garage door?

You need to know the size of the door and the number of panels. Information on the replacement spring packaging will indicate which spring is needed.

There is a wide range of padlock prices. What is the advantage of the more expensive ones?

They are heavier, more durable and will provide greater security.

Can I leave my window partially open and still have it locked?

Yes, window locks can be mounted on a track, which permits windows to be opened a desired distance.

I am building a storage box. What type of hinge should I use so that the top can be opened?

A piano hinge is a good choice.

I need a hinge for my child's toy box. What will keep the lid up safely when opened?

Use a lid support hinge.

What screw do I use to anchor a knob onto a drawer?

If you do not have the knob to identify the size, it's probably an 8-32 screw. It may not be the right one, but it's the best guess that may keep you from making another trip.

What fixture can I use that will enable me to hang a picture straight?

For lightweight pictures, a saw-toothed hanger on picture frames will permit you to adjust the picture on the nail.

Do you have a caster that works better on a bed?

Yes, a special bed caster has a wide wheel, which makes it easier to roll. Casters come in a variety of sizes to accommodate different weights.

What is the easiest way to shut out cold air coming in around my aluminum door?

A stick-on foam tape works well on aluminum, but it must be applied when the surface is warm and dry.

What is the best product to weatherproof my door?

Many people prefer the doorjamb weatherstrip. It works on metal with screws or wood with nails. Unlike the v-strips, foam strips or felt, these can't fall off.

How can I stop an air draft around the light switch and receptacles?

A foam seal is available to go behind the switch or receptacle plate.

What can I use to tighten up a sagging clothesline?

A turnbuckle installed at one end permits you to tighten the line to the desired tautness.

How can I square up my wooden screen door? It is rubbing on the sill.

A screen door turnbuckle, applied diagonally, will raise the sagging edge.

What can I use to anchor a drapery rod on drywall?

A plastic anchor will support a lighter rod. Rods supporting heavier weights will need a molly wall grip.

How do I install a molly wall grip?

Drill the proper size hole to insert the molly. Turn the screw head until you feel the molly expand and grip the drywall. Next, remove the screw for intended use. A drive-in type is available which eliminates the need for drilling a hole.

How do I install a toggle bolt?

Drill a proper size hole and insert the bolt. Don't forget that you have to insert the bolt through the item you are fastening to the wall. Collapse the toggle and push the bolt through the hole until the toggle springs open. Now, tighten the bolt to complete the anchoring.

What is the advantage of cement-coated nails?

Friction heat from driving the nail softens the cement coating and causes the nail to adhere to wood more firmly.

What is the difference between a common nail and a smooth box nail?

The common nail is thicker even though the nails have the same length.

Should I use a finishing nail?

These are mostly for interior work when you would countersink the head and cover the nail hole.

What is the difference between a sheet metal screw and a wood screw?

The main difference is a sheet metal screw has threads along its entire length. A wood screw has threads along about two-thirds of its length and costs a little less.

Should I use a galvanized nail?

Galvanized nails resist rust, and you should use them whenever you are building a project that will be exposed to the elements. Aluminum nails are rustproof but must be thicker to prevent them from bending.

I am paneling my basement walls. What nail can I use to anchor furring strips to a concrete block wall?

Masonry nails can do this job.

Are there nails that match my walnut paneling?

Yes, paneling nails come in a variety of colors.

Are there screws that will not rust?

Brass, aluminum and stainless steel screws should meet your needs.

Why would I use aluminum?

It is less expensive than stainless, but it is softer and not as strong. Aluminum nails are used for some specific applications. For example, they are good underwater. In general, stainless is the most popular.

Why would I use brass screws?

Brass is also softer than and not as strong as stainless, and its main use is when you want the decorative look of brass.

What do the marks on the head of a bolt mean?

They represent the hardness of the bolt. No marks indicates the least hard, three marks is medium hardness and bolts with six marks are the hardest.

What are the advantages of a carriage bolt?

The square shoulder, sunk into wood, prevents the bolt from turning, and the round head gives a smoother finish.

Even with a lock washer, I continue losing the nut off my mower.

Use a lock nut with a nylon insert. This arrangement will not vibrate loose as readily.

What is the meaning of USS and SAE as it pertains to bolts?

USS are coarse threads, while SAE are fine threads.

What is a lag bolt?

It is basically a large wood screw (with a pointed tip) and a hex head.

Is there a nail I can use that is less likely to split my wood?

Pointless nails protect against wood splitting because they cut through fibers rather than following the grain of the wood.

I need some joist hangers.

The most important factor is to make sure you buy the right joist hanger that fits the dimension of lumber are you using.

Should I use 3-mil visqueen or 4-mil visqueen?

The 4-mil is thicker, which makes it more durable. The 3-mil is not as good, but if it is for a short one-time use, it is a little less expensive. For example, it could be used as a disposable drop cloth.

Will this handle fit my sliding glass door?

I'm sorry, there are too many manufacturers and styles to know which one fits your door. The best thing to do is take the one you think, looks the closest. It may not work, but if it does it will save you a trip back. Otherwise, its best to bring in your old handle to make a match.

What products do you sell that will help childproof my home?

Child resistant locks on cabinets, electrical outlet covers, additional smoke alarms and gun locks are some of the products you should consider.

How long should a smoke detector last?

Replace any smoke detector that is more than 10 years old.

Is nylon rope worth its extra cost?

Twisted nylon rope is the most versatile because of its strength. Additionally it has good shock resistance, which means sudden jerks are less likely to damage the rope or cause failure. Its resistance to abrasion makes it durable where rubbing is likely to occur. It is resistant to most chemicals and will not rot or mold when wet. When stretched, it tends to return to its original length, making it good for lifting and towing. However, it should not be attached to winches, bits, hooks or chains.

When should I use a polyester rope?

Polyester twisted rope has strength similar to nylon but at the expense of a poor shock load capacity. However, it has a good resistance to abrasion and sunshine. It's a good choice for general-purpose boating applications.

I am building a swing. What type of chain do you recommend?

Passing link allows the links to pass each other easily, which helps prevent kinking and tangling.

How strong a chain should I buy?

Chains are all rated to their working loads. Welded chains have links that are welded to form a continuous loop and are the strongest. Weldless chains are formed by bending, twisting or knotting the metal to form individual loops. It's recommended for light work only.

I have a bolt that is not threading in properly. Can I fix this?

Yes, a thread repair kit allows you to retap it, put in an insert and rebuild it.

I've broken the head off a bolt. Is there some way I can get it out?

You should use a bolt extractor kit. It has a tap and an insert with a left-hand thread so that it can be turned to remove the bolt.

I have a tarp that I want to tie down. What should I use?

The easiest way is to use one of the new tarp clamps and elastic cords. For a more permanent situation, use a grommet tool, grommets and elastic cords.

Is a toggle bolt a good choice for anchoring something to my wall?

No, toggle bolts are designed for hanging things from a ceiling, where weight is distributed across the toggle. For a wall, it's best to use one of the newer kinds of plastic anchors. One has a self-drilling head that can be driven either with a screwdriver or a power tool.

I have looked for specific-size screws everywhere, but I can't find one that is the right size?

Let's look to see if it's a metric size.

I'm going to nail a small piece of wood to something. What should I use?

You can use small nails,called brads, but to help prevent the wood from splitting, you should pre-drill the holes.

I need to attach my grill to my deck to deter it from being stolen. What do you recommend?

Aircraft cable is a good choice. You can swage both ends and use it with a padlock. It's more attractive than a heavy chain, and it can be used on many things - such as outdoor furniture.

What can I do to add security to my door?

Consider installing a stronger strikeplate - these are larger and have much longer screws.

What type of padlock holds up best in the weather?

While brass padlocks will hold up better in the weather than standard ones, most people are happier with the plastic weatherproof casing. Obviously, the brass ones provide a decorative option.

What features make a padlock stronger?

The high-security padlocks often have cases that provide a collar around most of the shackle. That makes it harder to get bolt cutters on them.

Is there a difference between the steel wires, brass wires and copper wires used to hang pictures?

It's really just a decorative choice.

Will this casement window operator work on my window?

There are both left-opening and right-opening ones, and you need to make sure you get the correct one.

How do I hang a picture?

The best method is to use a picture-hanging kit designed for the weight of your picture. In most cases, it's best to double hook it so that all the weight is not suspended in one area.

Will a stick-on hook hold much weight?

They are really only designed for towels and other lightweight items.

Is it easy to install a closet rod?

Yes, you need to know the width of the closet, but most rods are expandable. However, it's best if you hit the stud. That way you can be sure it will hold lots of weight.

Are the shelf support brackets used on RTA furniture all the same size?

No, the most common size is 5mm, but there are many variations. If you can't find the right size, it may be easier to just drill the holes out a little larger to a size bracket that you can find.

I had shelf support brackets that bent because there was too much weight on them. Are there stronger ones?

Yes, there are heavier ones and some have angled pieces to support the top, which will almost triple their strength.

Is there a way to keep condensation off my water pipes in the basement?

A piece of foam pipe insulation works well.

What kind of security system do I need to protect my doors and windows?

A perimeter system protects the doors and windows while an area alarm has a motion detector that protects entire rooms.

Where should I keep a fire extinguisher in my home?

Don't mount it too close to where a fire is likely to occur. For example, don't keep it next to the stove. A good place is at the top of the stairs or near a workshop. In most cases, it's a good idea to have a fire extinguisher for every 600 square feet of living space.

Where should I install carbon monoxide detectors?

They should be placed in the hallway near the sleeping area, and there should be one on every level of the home.

Selecting the Correct Screw and Using it Properly

  • Illustrated are the six types of common screws. These screws can be divided into two basic types: slot-head screws and Phillips-head screws.
  • Both types of screws are available with flat, round, and oval heads.
  • Illustrated are how these three different types of common heads look when driven into the wood.
  • The oval-head screw extends above the surface in a slight oval. The round-head screw protrudes above the surface in a half-circle. The flat-head screw is flush with the surface.
  • Type basic types of screwdrivers are needed for driving the different types of screws (see image). The regular slotted screw has a slot in the head, while the Phillips-head screw has a cross slot.
  • Always use the proper screwdriver for the screw you are using.
  • Use the screw selection chart for selecting the correct size and length of screw for any job (see below). This chart is designed for flat-head screws but can be used for any type.
  • The column on the right shows the size of the pilot hole to be drilled for starting the screw.
  
Screw Selection Chart
Plywood ThicknessFlat-Head Screws
ScrewLengthPilot Head
3/4"#81-1/2"5/32"
5/8"#81-1/4"5/32"
1/2"#61-1/4"1/8"
3/8"#61"1/8"
1/4"#43/4"7/64"

For additional information on these and other hardware questions, check out these helpful links:

Tips for Making Home RepairsMaking Your Home Child Safe
Selecting and Using Screws and NailsDesigning a Home Security System
Installing HingesDesigning a Home Office
Making Your Home Secure 

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Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Information in this document has been furnished by the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and associated contributors. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and safety. Neither NRHA, any contributor nor the retailer can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

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