Monthly Archives: June 2012

Find a Handyman

I entered my postcode into your sites find a handyman thing (I live in Manchester by the way) and there were about twenty people listed but only the first five or six were members of the guild of handymen. What’s the idea surely you should only list your members?

Handyman TLAs

A TLA is ‘three letter acronyn’ so in fact TLA is itself a TLA.

Here are some handyman related TLAs:—
DIY—do it yourself (go figure)
RSJ—rolled steel joist (a big metal beam)
DPC—damp proof course (a plastic bit in your mortar at a layer of bricks near the ground)
RCD—residual current device (a thingy to stop you getting electrocuted)
MCB—miniature circuit breaker (a little switch in place of a fuse)
TRV—thermostatic radiator valve (a rad knob to control room temperature)
PVA—polyvinyl acetate (commonly in a glue or a bonding additive)
PVC (actually more often uPVC)—unplasticised polyvinyl chloride (used to make plastic window and door frames)
PSE—planed square edged (nice smooth timber as opposed to sawn)
PIR—passive infrared (heat sensitive movement detection usually of burglars)
BLT—bacon, lettuce and tomato (a nice filling for a bap)
JCB—big yellow digger

Please add any you can think of …serious or otherwise.


There are various methods of laying slabs each with merits.

Some people like to use blobs of a mortar mix usual involving five blobs …one under each corner and one under the middle of the slab. Having lifted many a slab to reseat it, this method is a common find. But since I’m often reseating the slab because it has sunk relative to its neighbours, it must say something that this is not a good long term solution. It might be easy to do but the blobs when dry can sink into the soil on which the slabs are invariably laid. The air gap gives plenty of opportunity for ants to nest and further undermine the slab which can also crack because it is not supported under its whole area.

A better method is to lay slabs on a 30-40mm bed of a dry mix comprising sharp sand and cement (about 4:1). It works best if the mix is not actually bone-dry but slightly damp so it seems sort of alive a bit like soft brown sugar. Trowel the mix level and then carefully lower the slab into place taking care not to trap loose mix between the edges of adjacent slabs.

The level can be adjusted by adding or subtracting mix from a corner or edge until the slab sits level or by forcing mix under a corner if the slab rocks at all. The slab can be thumped down a bit with a large rubber hammer although the weight of the slab will generally compress the mix sufficiently. And if the newly laid slabs are not walked on for a few days it will allow the mix to set quite hard with a like biscuit-like texture as it absorbs moisture from the ground. Tapped air within the mix allows for drainage and the slab is fully supported so it should not crack.