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Dec 12, 2016

Tackling a New Project Doesn't Have to Be Intimidating

This post is sponsored by DIYZ 

The story goes like this: I'll wake up early...usually on a Saturday, or perhaps the Monday of a three day weekend. I'll pull on my work jeans — not the trashed, paint-splattered ones; just the wornout pair with the ever growing hole in the right knee I need to patch. I'll tie my workboots, and grab a few quick measurements before I head out the door. I always remember to put the tape measure in my pocket to take it with me. Today is project day. 

And I'll get to the home improvement store, and I'll wander the aisles, and I'll realize: I have no idea what I'm doing. I need more information, more measurements, more details. So, I'll desperately look up something on my phone, but the reception in the back of this huge concrete box isn't good enough. Plus, all those content farms have tricked the search engines so that the quality of information that comes up is poor, and so generic that I struggle to trust it. 

Plus, maybe I have the basic materials figured out, but what tools do I need? Do I have the right screws, or are all mine too short or have the wrong head type? And - for goodness sakes - do I need another pack of #2 Phillips driver bits? (Thankfully, that one is easy. Yes. The answer is always yes. )   

 

So, when the team behind DIYZ got in touch with us, I was admittedly intrigued. It's an  app for your smartphone that's loaded with all sorts of common household projects. You download on your phone (free on iTunes or Google Play), and it features three essential components:

  • step-by-step instructions (many with video help)
  • a complete tool and material list for every project
  • the ability to contact a professional in the middle of the project in case you need some additional help

As someone who's worked in the DIY and how-to realm of the internet for nearly ten years now, I've become increasingly hesitant in trusting that I'll find quality, practical information via searching for it. I get hundreds of email pitches a day written by interns and novices that are filled with information slapped together and copied from various sources and are so broad that they're helpful to exactly no one. DIYZ isn't like that; it has legit instructional content with easy-to-follow videos, written by people who know what they're talking about, with the goal of helping you finish your project correctly.

 

The DIYZ app lives on your phone, and helps you get started with your project. The info is clear, easy to find, and saves you time and headaches because the know-how here is legit. If you need some new tools to tackle the process, they're laid out for you here, and if you want to buy them right from the app, you can. 


I'm not a beginner DIYer, but I'm not a professional contractor either. I don't know how to do everything, but I'm willing to try anything before I pay for someone else to do it. I want to learn, and the best way to learn is by doing it. It's the best (and sometimes worse) part of being a homeowner. 

So, I decided to put DIYZ to the test. I needed to install a door in my new workshop to close it off from a storage closet at the back corner of our basement. Up to this point, I've never attempted a door install. At all. I can install a door knob and take it off the hinges with the best of them, but, to honest, I had absolutely no idea even how a door is constructed. What's a jamb? What's a mullion? Is that a king stud or a jack stud? Where does the latch assembly go? And how do you cover up that gap between the walls and the door? I am, admittedly, a door novice.

Here's the closet opening. It's messy back there, cause I'm in the middle of a project, and it's helping my keep the walkway clean. I'm typically a pretty organized closet guy. Ask anyone. Really. I am. 


So I took some quick measurements, bought the (hopefully) right sized door, and fired up the DIYZ app. I navigated to the Windows and Doors section, found exactly what I needed, and watched each of the video steps. Okay - so I need some shims and a bit of hardware. This I can do. 

I set the door in place ... well, I tried to. I quickly realized it was too tall for the space (it's a basement with 7' 5" ceilings). So, I trimmed off a bit of the jamb and some of the bottom of the door itself with a circular saw. 

Then I set the door in place for real. 

I inserted shims all around the door frame, working from the base and then the opposite corner, jumping around to keep things flush, square, plumb, and the door opening and closing smoothly. Once I was set (this admittedly took me about 45 minutes since I was working alone), I set some screws through the door jamb and the shims into the 2x4 frame. The DIYZ app recommended 8D nails, but screws were easier for me since I was working alone, and could set them with one hand while applying pressure with the other. 

I checked for level in every single direction four thousand times, and locked it down with a few extra countersunk screws. 

Once everything was secure, I cut the shims flush.

 

Then, I added a handle and trimmed everything out with period-appropriate trim that matches the era and architecture of my house as best I could. I caulked and painted it like a boss ... and holy cow! This actually worked!

 

Done. Case, and door, closed. 

 

Did I follow the instructions to the letter? No. Did DIYZ account for every little subtlety and issue that came up in the process? No — how could it? But, like a drill and tape measure, the DIYZ app was an essential tool in my process and the thing that gave me the overview I needed, the bravery to try it, and the info that prevented me from getting flustered in the aisles of the home improvement center. And that, to me, is what matters most. Check out DIYZ on the App Store and Google Play.

 

What's the trickiest project you've tackled recently? Let me know in the comments!

 

Thanks to DIYZ for sponsoring this post. All opinions are mine alone. And thank you, readers, for supporting the brands that support ManMade. 

 

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