Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

27 Elul 5759 - September 8, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Home and Family
Do It Yourself With Yosef Krinsky

Last year millions of individuals seriously injured themselves in the home. The majority of injuries occurred while making home repairs or improvements. Did you ever think how dangerous it is to build a succah? We are aware of the dangers of using a ladder, power tools, rusty nails, and electricity, but how many people take proper safety precautions? A recent article in The Jerusalem Post mentions the following "Succah Building Precautions:"

"Before and during the building of your Succah, make sure that the workspace is clear. This will minimize the chance of falling. When using a ladder, always place it on firm ground: not on sand or any other unstable surface, and never lean a ladder on a window or on a glass door. When handling fresh wood, a set of fabric gloves will minimize the chance of splinters; these are available for under $2. Never attempt carpentry (or any other do-it-yourself project) while tired or under the influence of alcohol or medication. When cutting or sawing, cut away from yourself. Never expose raw electricity lines, and have all extension cords raised above head height. Never experiment with splicing wires. After the Succah looks finished, make sure there are no protruding nails, screws, splintered wood, or loose boards or beams."

Let's try to make this Succos a happy and healthy one.

Mr. Weiss from Kiryat Sefer asks, "What is the best way to preserve my Succah beams and boards?"

I have always preferred using wood oils such as linseed oil, log oil, or Wood Royal (at ACE Hardware worldwide). Such oil will penetrate the wood, preserve and renew its life. However, there is always the time-proven option of staining and varnishing as well.

To apply wood oils properly, first see that the wood is smooth and clean. Apply a generous coating of the oil with a clean rag and remove the excess after a minute. To stain and varnish, clean the wood, applying stain with a rag (just like the oils). After drying, applying 1-3 coats of Spar Varnish. Spar Varnish is the strongest varnish available, as it was designed to be used under the harsh conditions found on boats at sea. One word of warning: Never shake varnish as it will create lots of bubbles in your finish; just stir it gently.

Malka C. in Central Israel asks, "Do you have any suggestions for rejuvenating an old white enamel bathtub? We have tried lots of cleaning materials without getting good results. Any new ideas?"

Bathtub and sink epoxy paints are on the market worldwide. It is very important that before applying the epoxy paint the surface is extremely clean; there should be no soap scum or water present. The application is similar for each product: clean the surface, allow the area to dry, mix the 2-part paint and allow to sit for fifteen minutes to one hour. Brush or spray on the paint and reapply in 2 hours. The fumes are very noxious and the paint itself when still wet is not healthy either, so proper protection is necessary. Using a fan may not be a good idea as it may cause dust to settle on your finish.

Chana B. asks, " We've recently moved into a new ground floor apartment and many uninvited guests keep appearing: not people but ants. Any suggestions for keeping ants out on a long term basis?"

The longest lasting protection is a full extermination by a licensed exterminator. This usually will keep pests away for 1-4 years. A more natural method would be to spread used coffee grounds on the area as ants are repelled by them. I have been told that instant coffee crystals work very well too.

Today's Do It Yourself Hint: When dismantling a Succah, store all the screws, nails and assorted hardware in a plastic bag, then staple or affix the bag to the Succah boards. That way you don't have to buy new hardware next year and get aggravated 6 months later when finding the original set. (Please send in your hint as I am running out!)

Today's Do It Yourself Resource: Rabbi Binyomin Buxbaum sends in the link for an excellent Web Site. They have answers to most household DIY projects. The address is:

Yosef Krinsky, a third generation craftsman, is the CEO of Walls R Us - House Painting, Inc., Jerusalem Division. He can be reached at (02) 585-9559; common mail POB 27355, Jerusalem; email at; and very soon at his new World Wide Web Site. Homeowners (renters, too) are invited to email their questions for a somewhat quick replay. He will publish names of individuals who ask for advice unless they explicitly request to remain anonymous. The Whale he painted in New York is still there.


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