With a subtitle of “80 Great Ideas Anyone Can Do” this book wastes no time getting to the projects. Instead of an introduction telling readers what the authors/publisher tried to do and thanking everyone involved for their help, the book immediately opens with a forty-three page chapter on “Storage.”  Projects range from the simple “Folding Peg Board Cabinet” to the more complex “Corner Swing and Roll-Out Trays” or the “Low-Cost TV Cabinet” (without doors). Each plan has an approximate price for supplies, skill level, a list of special tools needed, an exploded diagram plan and numerous pictures of every step of construction. The pictures are very helpful as they are rather large, in color, and items within the pictures are labeled and tagged along with detailed captions making it very clear to readers what they are looking at. Also included are brief “Handy Tips” designed to make construction go easier.


The second chapter follows the same format and covers “Shelving.” Over forty-five pages projects such as an “Under-Sink Shelf,” a “Coat & Mitten Rack,” the “Leaning Tower Of Shelves” to more complex ones like the “Traditional Maple Bookcase.” As with all the projects in this book, the skill levels might be a little low so you will want to consider if your abilities match the project depicted that you want to build. 


“Household Improvements” is the title for the third chapter. Also covering over forty pages, it kicks off with how to “Hang A Ceiling Fan.” That leads into adding a “Chair Rail” to save your wall from nasty scrapes by the chairs bouncing back against the wall. Or maybe you would like to spend a weekend doing “Snap-Together Wood Flooring.”  The book also shows you how to do “Fast, Easy Lamp Fixes” as well as “Fast Furniture Fixes” to deal with scratches and gouges among many more ideas. This chapter has few plans for original projects and instead is mainly more of a home repair chapter to take care of existing things.


Chapter four heads outside with “Paths, Walls & Fences.” Beginning on page 138 with plans for a “Decorative Fence” that will only take two weekends (unless a storm front blows through) the book tells you how to design, plan and build the fence you want along with taking in to account whatever expectations the neighbors and the homeowners association have. The single fence plan depicted in the book is off a basic privacy fence made out of wooden slats and topped off with a wood lattice and gate. Total cost of the fence is estimated to be “$15 per lineal foot” in materials. After the fence is done, maybe you want to build a “border wall” even though the approximate cost “varies greatly.” They tell you how to do so along with other projects such as “Simple Walkway Ideas” and building a “Modular Concrete Retaining Wall.” At this point you might be thinking that it might be best to figure out how to save the old fence and they tell you how in “Renew Your Wood Fence.” This chapter does skip around quite a bit instead of more naturally having all the fence plans together, all the walkway projects together, etc. Despite that quibble, this chapter is overall another good one with plenty of neat ideas.


 “Yard & Garden” is the next chapter and it opens with a rather sexist photograph of a man relaxing and reading on a bench in the garden while the women is happily tweaking the spraying water fountain that is nestled in a bunch of flowers.  At the end of the chapter, the same picture is used from a slightly different angle to showcase the small soothing fountain. In between are fifty pages that cover “5 Tips For A Perfect Lawn,” a “Folding Grill Table,” a “Copper Trellis” among numerous other projects are offered . One project on “Plant Markers” is rather impractical as it uses the empty paper seed envelopes as the headstones of the markers. Having done a variation of this idea myself in the past, I know the empty seed packets don’t last very long in the garden. That weak idea contrasts to the very interesting “Container Water Gardens” project which shows you how to make small water gardens in various containers that you can set out on your patio or wherever.


This 218 page book closes with a list of manufacturer resources and a metric conversion chart. There is also a full page ad for two other books also published by Reader’s Digest. There is not an index. Realizing that some things looked a little familiar, a closer examination of the title page reveals a small acknowledgement that these plans were previously published in various custom publications named “Storage Solutions, Best Weekend Projects and Best Backyard Projects.”


Overall, this is a comprehensive and informative book of many different projects for the inside and outside of your home. Like any project book, it is up to the individual reader to determine how closely it matches his or her abilities and interest level. However, this detailed book is clearly far superior to a lot of the same type of books in the market and would be a worth while investment for your personal library.


Best Weekend Projects

Editors of The Family Handyman

Readers Digest Publications



ISBN #978—0-7621-0927-2



This book was provided by the good folks of the Plano, Texas Library System. According to budget projections recently reported in the local media, the library system is facing over a million dollars in cuts for the new fiscal year. These are tough times for libraries as those making the budgets often look to libraries to cut even though traffic is usually at record levels. Support your local library.


Kevin R. Tipple © 2009

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