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AMMONIA GETS RID OF STAINS

Question: I spilled some tomato sauce over brand-new kitchen cabinets. What a mess! How can I clean it up? Ordinary washing helped, but there is still some residue left. - John M., Arlington, Mass.

Answer: A strong solution of Spic and Span should do it. Or a strong solution of ammonia and water. The Spic and Span and ammonia should cut the oils very nicely; the rest of the stain is likely to be history.

Question: I would like to put a fan decoration of clapboards on the gable above the front entrance of my Cape-style house. I tried overlapping the clapboards in a fan shape, but the overlapping boards at the hub (the bottom center of the fan) got so thick that it was impossible to complete. Then I was told that I have to back-angle cut the clapboards. I am not familiar with back-angle cuts, and can't find a thing in all the manuals and books on decorative siding. Any ideas? - John Doherty, Billerica, Mass.

Answer: I think so. I think back-angle cuts are simply to cut the narrow edge of each clapboard to the tapered shape of each unit in the fan, and butt them rather than trying to overlap them. And, to make it easier, I suggest installing a half-round hub at the bottom center of the area; this will provide something to butt the clapboards to. When you get to the center of the fan, where a clapboard will go vertically from the half-round hub, cut it on both sides so that it tapers evenly.

I think drawing the fan to scale will give you a good idea how to cut each clapboard. Make the scale 1 inch to 1 foot, which will make it easier to make those cuts.

And you're right about the lack of informaton; the handyman looked in his vast collection of "how to" books without success.

However, the fan systems are made in plastic, a high density polymer that can be painted. Fypon is one manufacturer, which makes sunbursts (that's its name for the fan system), in sizes from 28 to 96 inches wide and 15 to 49 inches high. Fypon is at 22 West Pennsylvania Ave., Stewartstown, PA 17363, telephone (717) 993-2593.

Question: I received a whole load of cobblestones that I would like to put in a walkway. They are square cut, 8 to 91/2 inches long and various widths. Can I put them in just as brick is installed on a bed of sand? What about weeds growing? - Michael Shammas, Ashland, Mass.

Answer: Yes, just the same: Lay them butting together in 2 inches of stone dust or sand, well tamped. From what you describe, the stones are not cobblestones (rounded, natural stones) but rather paving stones (cut granite), and they will last another million years at least. You can set stones in the ground vertically to act as a border. As for weeds, if the walkway is pretty much in shade, you should not have any serious trouble. But if it's in the sun, you will get weeds galore. One prevention for weeds is to lay agricultural cloth or perforated black plastic on top of the stone dust or sand.

Question: I would like to pickle some wood to a nice gray color. The wood is already stained. How can I do it? - Jean Kennedy, Milton, Mass.

Answer: You have to sand off the stain; pickling must be done on bare wood. And to pickle the bare wood, thin down a gray latex stain with about one-thire of its volume with water. Wipe it on the wood, wait a few minutes for the stain to set a little, then wipe off with a dry cloth. The more your wipe off, the lighter the pickling will be. For more color, wait 10 minutes before wiping off the stain.