Month: March 2017

How to build a Plywood or MDF Stepstool

A step stool always comes in handy. Sometimes you realize you need something to climb on to reach up a bit further, and you find that you do not have a small step stool at hand. Climbing up on a chair or something unstable is certainly not a good idea. Getting a ladder every time is very inconvenient, not only because it is bulky, but also because it may not be opened up properly if you need to use it in a restricted area.

So, why don’t you build a step stool yourself so as to find it at your disposal in such cases? Building a step stool is really quite easy, and you can do it using MDF or plywood. The construction is fairly simple, and the result will be a lightweight but robust step stool that will be useful in many cases. Let us discuss how to go about building it.

Various Thicknesses of MDF Sheets. Image credit: Woodland Manufacturing

Materials Required

You will need to get a plywood board or sheets of MDF. About a quarter of a full sized sheet should suffice for a step stool. Try to find a board that is relatively thick, as the thicker it is the sturdier it will be. Plywood is often found in a 12mm thickness, but in some stores you should also be able to find 18mm thick sheets or even 25mm. The latter is ideal as your stool will be stronger and it will not run the risk of warping or bending over time.

You will also need a box of self-tapping wood screws. A screwdriver is a must of course. A regular one will do the job, but an electric screwdriver is more convenient. You will also need a jigsaw or a circular saw.

Building the stool

Start off by cutting two L-shaped pieces from the MDF or plywood sheet. The length and the depth of these pieces should be of approximately 15 inches. The most important thing is that you stick to the same dimensions on both sides. To create an L-shape, remove exactly one square quarter of the side.

Afterwards, cut four batons. These should be of an equal length as they will need to connect both of the L-shaped pieces together. This will result in the frame of your stool. Each baton should be about 15 inches long and 2 inches deep.

Once you have cut the batons, position them in their respective places and start to attach them. A combination of wood glue and wood screws is recommended to attach them well. The screws should be inserted at either end, and go through the sides of the l-shaped pieces. This is the easiest way to go about it. However, for those who are more skilled at woodworking, there is also the option of making jig holes, also known as pocket holes in the batons as in this way they will hide the screw heads and you will achieve a neater result.

Now that the basic frame of the stool is assembled, you will need to tackle the top. Cut your stool’s top with the jigsaw or circular saw. It is highly recommended that you do not cut it precisely to fit the frame’s opening. Some overhang is important as apart from providing you with more room where to stand, it will also make the stool more robust. So, aim for a size that is about 18 inches long and 9 inches deep. Attach the top to the frame of the stool using screws that run right through the surface of the batons.

If you would like to include a carrying handle for your stool, by cutting it out on the top step of the stool. This will make your stool look even more professional and also allow you to move it around and store it away more easily.

Last but not least, you will need to cut the bottom sheet of the step stool. A piece measuring 16 inches by 18 inches should do the trick. Then trim the edges so as to allow this piece to slide easily and manage to fit it in snugly in the stool’s frame. It should overhang a bit at the front when you attach it. The thinner edge of this piece should slide into the back area of the stool’s lower step, and in this way you will be able to attach it with screws and some wood glue.

Finished MDF Step Stool. Image credit: Idano

And that is basically all you need to do to have a finished step stool. As you can see it is quite easy and it will not require neither skill nor expensive materials. This is probably one of the simplest DIY woodworking projects you can do, and yet there is no doubt that having a step stool at home or in your garage is really convenient, and quite often, indispensable!

Posted by Kyle in Lifestyle

Cat A vs Cat B vs Shell & Core Office Fit-Outs

Commercial Property Construction & Fit-outs

One of the main aspects in commercial property construction is to try to satisfy clients’ wishes. As a result, once the construction is carried out, we will need to move on to the fit-out phase. The interior of the building will need to be improved, so that the space is appropriate for occupation, such as to start to accommodate the office workers.

There are various kinds of fit-outs, and for commercial property developers it is important to choose a fit-out that will best serve the needs and wishes of the occupants. However, the degree of completion of the project will vary from one construction to another, and so will the type of fit-out. The main types of fit-outs are Shell & Core, Cat A or Cat B. Let us discuss what each of these types of office fit-outs involves in more detail.

Shell & Core is considered just the bare bones construction. Image credit: Construction Week

Shell & Core Fit-outs

Shell and Core Fit-outs are among the most popular options, especially since there are many who prefer to take care of the design and finishes themselves, or by hiring another specialist company that offer interior design services. A shell and core fit-out will basically revolve solely around the completion of the outer framework of a building. This involves completing the most essential parts of a construction project, such as installing basic utilities like toilets, stairwells, and lifts. Apart from having completed the structure of a building, this involves completing the common areas like the reception or lobby, as well as any external works. So cladding and base plant are also carried out. Whenever this kind of fit-out is completed, the building is basically in shell form. So, with this type of office fit-out the building will basically look to be complete from the outside. But once one steps inside it is practically an open, blank space that still requires a lot of work to be occupied.

Category A Fit Outs tend to be minimalist move-in ready offices. Image credit: Blenheim House

Category A Fit-outs

A Category A fit-out is often referred to as a basic landlord fit-out. This is because a Category A fit-out will include some more work on a building’s interior. So, this will generally include the floor coverings, any raised floors and suspended ceilings, and some generic works on the perimeter walls. A Category A fit-out will also comprise basic mechanical and electrical services, such as lights, air conditioning and other basic controls. For those who opt for it basic fire detection and protection systems are also installed during this phase.

Category B Fit-outs

Category B is considered the most advanced type of fit-out that can be carried out. All design elements will be agreed upon so as to be installed and completed. So, this will involve installing any IT and other equipment that will be used by the workers, and even the office furniture. Any doors, partitions and floor finishes will also be completed in a Category B fit-out. More specialist finishes such as frosted glass, signage, lights and facilities will also be seen to. Basically the offices will be completed from start to finish with this type of fit-out. Any branding and finishing touches will be seen to during this type of fit-out.

Contracts

It is important that one agrees about the specific types of work and jobs to be completed by the company who will be taking care of the construction and the fit-out. In some cases this will be one company, and in others they may be partners. Therefore any ambiguity should be clarified by having a contract and all the necessary documentation which clearly established what will be completed and what will not, and who will be responsible for it.

Even though there is a difference between Shell & Core, Cat A and Cat B fit-outs, there may be cases where one developer feels that certain works fall under one type, whereas another will be willing to complete them in another type of fit-out. This is because these types of fit-outs offer a rather generic idea of what is included and what is not, and there is no standard definition for either of them. Therefore before starting out on any office refurbishment or relocation, it is important to make sure that both the client and the developer are on the same terms and have agreed on what will be done.

Deciding on the type of fit-out

The difference between these types of fit-outs is all about the degree of completion of the building in question. The interior specifications matter a great deal as they will have an effect on how nice the interior environment is, which will in turn affect workers’ motivation, maintenance expenses, and the company’s image. The decision will generally revolve around the costs involved, and how much the occupant trusts the developer to take care of the interior design of the building.

Posted by Kyle in Business

What is Planned Preventative Maintenance?

Understanding the full scope of PPM for commercial businesses

Sometimes, the integrity of a structure is taken for granted. Just because of its construction and because a building seems to be okay does not mean that there is no need for regular maintenance. Planned preventative maintenance needs to be carried out on a regular basis in order to ensure that the integrity and longevity of a structure is maintained and improved.

Staying on top of upkeep is not something that should be considered as an extra burden, but rather it is a way to ensure that any future costly repairs or failures are avoided. And the larger a building is, the bigger the problems can turn out to be. So, the bigger the edifice or building is, the bigger the need for preventative maintenance. Making a plan is highly recommended when a building is large or spread over a substantial area, as there will be various kinds of maintenance works to be carried out in the various areas, rooms and locations. Let us discuss some of the things that will find their way on a preventative maintenance plan.

Many PPM firms use sub-contractors to reduce costs. Image credit: Wise Geek

Roofing

A building will obviously have a roof, and one can safely state that the roof is ultimately one of the main elements that need to be taken good care of. Considering the fact that the roof is subject to various weather conditions and other problems, it goes without saying that regular maintenance should be carried out. Corrective action may be required in various cases, and so it is important to carry out routine inspections at least twice a year. Should there be any severe storm it is also important to inspect the roof so as to see if there is anything that needs to be seen to.

Carrying out regular maintenance work on the roof will generally involve jobs such as clearing roof drains of debris, examining any sections which were previously repaired, checking roof-to-wall connections, inspecting flashings particularly at curbs and penetrations so as to see if there are any tears or wrinkles, and carrying out re-caulking from time to time.

A moisture survey should be carried out at least every 5 years so as to detect any leaks or wet insulation. If there are solar panels on the roof, regular checks are imperative so as to see if there are any panels that ended up getting dislodged or with build-up of snow or other debris.

If the building is large and there are various roofs, it may be best to set up a roofing file for each building so as to keep a note of the various works that were carried out on specific dates, as well as set a plan for future regular maintenance works.

HVAC Systems

Heating and cooling equipment are imperative in a building. Unfortunately a lack of HVAC maintenance leads to inefficiency, higher bills, and poor air quality. Therefore it is important to include HVAC as part of planned preventative maintenance. These should be inspected at least twice a year. Seasonal start-ups and run inspections are important. There could be small jobs such as missing screws to be replaced, or gasket repairs, or more extensive replacements and repairs to be carried out. If there are any pumps annual lubrication is recommended. The cleaning and replacement of air filters should be carried out quite often, generally quarterly.

Having a regular maintenance schedule in place can prevent unwanted disasters. Image credit: Damazine

Plumbing

Plumbing is one of the main areas to keep under check in planned preventative maintenance. A seemingly small dripping or leakage problem could end up into a considerable problem if left unattended. Any leaks or unusual noises should be investigated immediately, and a thorough annual inspection is highly recommended, especially in bathrooms or restrooms. Water heaters and boilers need to be checked too.

Lighting

Many commercial establishments place importance on energy savings. Yet they do not always make it a point to carry out planned preventative maintenance so as to ensure that energy savings and lighting quality are maximized. Lighting fixtures should be properly maintained. Lamps may start to fail and so glare baffles, transformers and other accessories should be seen to. Exterior lights often require more attention than interior ones. Gaskets may need to be replaced so as to provide a better watertight seal. Any burned-out lamps will need to be replaced. A relamping schedule is highly recommended especially in a commercial establishment where there are hundreds or thousands of lights.

Electrical Systems

Having a licensed electrician inspect the electrical systems every couple of years is recommended. In such a way panel boards, switchgear and connections will be checked and any cleaning and re-torquing can be carried out properly.

Outdoor Flooring

Parking lots and outdoor areas will require coating replacements and power washing from time to time in order to preserve them and maintain them in good condition. Crack filling and seal coating are some of the regular jobs that will need to be included in planned preventative maintenance.

Posted by Kyle in Business

Sky Q 2TB Set-Top Box Review

With various set-top boxes on the market, you may easily feel a bit confused as to which one you should choose. However, once you have read this review on the Sky Q 2TB Set-Top Box, you should be able to make up your mind quite easily.

The Sky Q 2TB Set-Top Box is regarded as one of the best set-top boxes on the market. As Sky+ has been one of the leading brands in this market for quite some time, one can safely say that the Sky Q 2TB Set-Top Box is an improved version, which couples up all the strong points along with several technical improvements. In fact the Sky Q 2TB Set-Top Box offers all this, along with streaming as well as a number of offline benefits as well.

Sky Q is a slim and sleek set-top box with tons of modern features. Image credit: Know Your Mobile

Sky Q 2TB Set-Top Box in a nutshell

The Sky Q 2TB Set-Top Box is one of the many boxes in the Sky range. There is the mini version and the 1TB version too. Needless to say, the Sky Q 2TB Set-Top Box is the high-end option. This latest version is a slimmer box, which will take up less physical space. But, with 2TB of storage it can enable you to watch a show, while recording another four shows simultaneously. It has in fact a storage for up to 350 hours of HD TV. It can also stream on two televisions or tablets.

User Interface & Features

The user interface is a very important aspect when choosing a set-top box. With a new EPG and user interface, the Sky Q 2TB Set-Top Box may seem to be a bit strange at first, but once one gets used to it, it is a good interface.

One may search for recordings alphabetically, and view them in visual thumbnails, which is much easier than the traditional long list. The programme information can be viewed on top, and is accompanied by a live picture of the current show.

There is a new feature named My Q, which allows you to find the last show that was watched, and it can proceed from where you had stopped last time out. Whatever you started but not finished can be easily found. There are also programme suggestions available, which is something that many viewers enjoy checking out.

Whenever one pauses, rewinds, or forwards a programme, it is possible to see where you are. This is a welcome improvement in this newer version.

The Sky Q EPG is slick and easy to navigate. Image credit: Engadget

Sky Q Apps

Smart TV features are important for many users and Sky Q set-top boxes come with various useful apps including Sky News, Sky Sports News, Music, Weather and My Photos, to mention a few.

Sky Q Hub

The Sky Q 2TB Set-Top Box will be able to act as a wi-fi hotspot for Sky Broadband customers when used with the Sky Q hub router. Later, Sky Q will also be working with a powerline network.

The Sky Q Remote Controls

Interestingly, Sky Q set-top boxes come with two remote controls. Apart from that standard one, there is the Bluetooth Sky Q Touch remote control, which has the main purpose of allowing the user to navigate by means of touch controls, such as by tapping and swiping instead of pushing the buttons.

Price

Prices vary depending on whether one is an existing customer or not. Existing customers on a multiscreen subscription will need to pay a one-time fee of 99GBP in order to upgrade to Sky Q and to get the 2TB set-top box. Those who do not have a Sky Multiscreen subscription can get the 2TB box for a 60GBP installation fee. Alternatively one can get the Sky Q 2TB Set-Top Box without the multiscreen subscription for an installation fee of 199GBP or buy a box from one of the many independent dealers who retail these boxes to allow expatriates to watch Sky Q abroad.

Conclusion

The Sky Q 2TB Set-Top Box is considered to be a TV platform that offers convenience and flexibility. One can view online and offline and the 2TB box is ideal for those who like to watch several programmes and record others. The extra storage available in the Sky Q 2TB Set-Top Box is certainly ideal. There is an extensive range of content available, and the price is quite reasonable. Obviously the Sky Q 2TB Set-Top Box is the high-end option but considering the fact that it is practically an all-encompassing home entertainment package, it is a very good option for many families and for those who are looking for a system where they can watch whatever they want wherever they are and whenever they feel like it! In fact one can watch TV abroad in this way, by using a VPN. It surely cannot get any better because even when you are away from home, you will still be able to watch your favorite shows! So it is literally an anytime, anywhere solution!

Posted by Kyle in Technology