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Do It Yourself


Fixing a burn spot on a laminated tabletop

By Peter Hotton
Peter Hotton
Peter Hotton has been the handyman expert for the Boston Globe for more than 30 years.

Q. I put a hot pot on my laminated plastic table top, and now there is a black burnt spot where the pot stood. Can I clean or sand it off? I called the furniture store where I bought the table, and the man laughed and said put a tablecloth on the table or throw it out.

Funny man. Seriously now, if it is Formica Brand Laminated Plastic or similar material, a store worth its salt can take off the top and put a new one in. Or cut a wood top and stain and varnish it for a whole new look. Or put a piece of granite on it. Just keep hot stuff off it.

Q. My lamp has a clear glass chimney with a milk glass shade. I removed these to wash it and stood the chimney up on the counter, then washed the shade and placed it over the chimney. You guessed it: They are stuck together but not too tight. There is a little wiggle, but I don’t want to force either piece of glass. It will crack the chimney, which is much thinner than the globe. I have to reduce the size of the chimney and/or increase the size of the shade. Hot increases and cold decreases? I plan on using a hair dryer to heat and a supple ice pack to cool.

You are right about heat expanding and cold contracting. Put the base end of the chimney in a bowl of ice water, cubes and all, and heat the shade with a hair dryer on low. The chimney will contract and the shade will expand. The only casualty that might occur is the chimney, because the glass, as you note, is very thin. It is easier to replace the chimney than the milk glass shade.

Q. I am a trustee of my condo association, and I am trying to determine what kind of a fence to replace old ones made of wood that have rotted out. This is important because each fence is between condos, and there are a lot of condos.

Vinyl and other plastics are permanent, and if you choose white, it will be very glaring and fake looking. Medium gray or medium brown is more natural looking. I suggest you install pressure-treated posts and rails, then apply cedar pickets and let everything weather for a totally natural look. Or put a 2-foot-high pressure-treated lattice above the pickets.

Q. How can I get blood out of a rug? Ice water did little good.

One answer is to use your own DNA (saliva). Easier is to soak with hydrogen peroxide.
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