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Here are some quick solutions to common problems found around the house from Today's Homeowner magazine.

Wobbly newel posts

Staircase handrails rely on the newel post — the large post that anchors the handrail at the bottom of the staircase — for support. If the post is loose, the railing becomes wobbly and offers little support for anyone climbing the stairs.

To repair a loose post, bore a 1-inch-deep hole into the base of the post with a 1-inch-diameter spade bit. Angle the bit toward the staircase framing behind the post.

Next, bore a 7/32-inch-diameter pilot hole through the post and into the framing.

Switch to a 5/16-inch-diameter drill bit and bore a screw-shank clearance hole only through the post.

Use a ratchet wrench to drive a 5/16-inch-diameter by 4-inch- or 5-inch-long lag screw with washer through the post.

Check to be sure the post is level before tightening the screw all the way.

Conceal the screwhead with a wooden plug cut from a 1-inch-diameter dowel.

One lag screw will steady most posts.

But, if it's still a little wobbly, drive in a second lag. This technique can also be used to bolster shaky handrail posts on a deck, porch or gazebo.

Falling-drawer fix

The drawers on many older cabinets and wall units ride on wood runners, not the metal slides typically used today. This low-tech system works well, but there's no mechanism for stopping the drawer.

The result? When the drawer is pulled out too far, it crashes to the floor. The solution is to install a stop block at the rear of the drawer.

Cut a 1/2-inch-thick wood block about 3/4 inches wide and 2 inches long. After boring an off-center hole through the block 3/4 inches from one end, screw it to the rear of the drawer.

Turn the block horizontally and slide the drawer partially into the cabinet. Then, turn the block vertically and push the drawer all the way in. Now, when you pull the drawer out, the block will hit against the cabinet face frame and stop the drawer.

If you ever need to remove the drawer, just turn the block 90 degrees to clear the face frame.

Ready spreader

Looking for a neat way to quickly spread glue on a large surface?

A notched plastic trowel is a lot faster than a paintbrush, and it cleans up in a snap.

Plastic trowels are sold at home centers and floor-covering stores for about $2.

Buy one with 1/8-inch notches along one edge. Pour a puddle of glue onto the work surface, then use the notches to spread the glue.

As you near the edge of the surface, quickly turn the trowel to avoid pushing glue right off the edge.

The notches will apply an even glue coat of uniform thickness, which promotes a good bond and saves glue.

This technique can be used to spread all sorts of adhesives, including carpenter's glue, contact cement and silicone.

Copyright © 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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