PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 May, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 May, 2002, 12:00am

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Being a DIY enthusiast in my native United States, I thought putting up pictures here would be a cinch. However, nails didn't even leave a dent and I broke a drill bit when I tried a drill. Any tips?

Mark Fraser replies: While the majority of walls in American homes comprise plasterboard and timber studs, in Hong Kong walls are constructed in cement reinforced by steel bars.

Domestic Black & Decker-style drills won't penetrate these walls - you need to invest in a heavy duty model which can accommodate an SDS masonry drill bit with full hammer action. (Although these drills are designed for industrial use, you can buy an attachment that accommodates regular drill bits so you can use it on regular steel or timber.) Once the holes are drilled you will need to insert plastic Rawlplugs and screws in the same size as the drill bit.

With lighter pictures you can use hammer-in hooks available from any hardware store. They are white plastic hooks with three small nails attached and the key to hammering them in is to hit all three nails at the same time.

For heavy items, such as an antique mirror, you will need a coach bolt - a steel bolt with a nut on the end which when tightened, expands to grip the inside of a hole. Drills can be purchased from Luen Tat Electrical Engineering (84a Thomson Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2893 1935). All hardware is available from Wing Lee Hardware at 154 Wellington Street, Central, tel: 2544 2345.

Fifty years ago, my grandfather acquired an intricately carved wooden plate from Japan and was told at the time it was 100 years old. Several of the carved pieces have fallen off. Can you recommend a specialist to restore it? Also, how can I verify its age? My grandfather gave me the carving's original paperwork (in Japanese).

Tsang Chi Fan replies: Although the Japanese are more famed for their metalwork and ceramics, there are a number of ivory and wood carvings that are extremely desirable to collectors. The first Japanese wood carvings, dating back to the 6th and 7th centuries, related to Buddhist art and religious carvings of this type continued to the 18th century.

Before you embark on any restoration, have an auction house check out the piece. Restoration can devalue an item. Meanwhile, keep it away from direct sunlight, dry heat or damp places to prevent cracking. However, if you're keen to have it restored you could take it to Charles Wong at Ever Arts (tel: 2522 8176). He may have a wood craftsman who can stabilise the breaks.

An auction house will also be able to verify the age and it's worth having the paperwork and manuscripts translated as they may indicate the name of the carver. If the text is long you can use a local translation agency but if you're lucky, the auction house might translate it for you.