Tool tips and time savers for the home handyman

Every home handyman has problems; from loose screws to bouncy hammers. Now I'm not saying that you're one of those, but with a little ingenuity and a few spare parts, every household problem can be overcome.

Here are a few solutions to those troublesome tool tribulations.

  • Got a screw loose? Don't worry, it happens to the best of us. To plug up that pre-drilled hole, break off the non-flammable ends of wooden match sticks and stuff them into the hole. Once you start to tighten the screw, the match sticks will create enough pressure to firmly hold that loose screw in place.
  • Stop slippery screws - Sometimes, pudgy fingers have problems positioning tiny screws; they slip, they flop, and they drop, but they just won't stay where you want them. This easily solvable problem can be mastered with a bit of sticky tape. Any variety will work. Stick the slippery screw into the tape with the sticky side towards the head. Secure the screw to the screwdriver and get on with life. Alternatively, dip the screw head in a bit of beeswax to create a make-shift-magnetic head.
  • Go golfing - but save the tee's. Those little wooden pegs fit perfectly into nice little round holes. For large nail holes, hammer a golf tee into the hole and saw off the end. Sand, paint, and almost if by magic, the hole disappears.
  • Forget sanding, try scraping - For an ultra-smooth surface, leave the sandpaper alone. Instead, use a piece of Swedish steel to shave off minute layers of wood. You'll end up with a glassy-smooth surface without the tiny abrasions left by the particles of even the finest sandpaper. This process is not recommended for personal grooming. Buy a razor instead.
  • Note-taking for dummies - If you're the type of person who can't remember what was said two seconds ago, buy some masking tape. Remember to get the kind you can write on. When trying to remember detailed measurements, stick a piece of masking tape on your tape measure and write the measurements on it. When you go to do your cuts, it's all right there - no brain activity required.
  • Increase the life of worn out drill bits - Yes, even drill bits get tired after repeated use. Give those bits a bit of extra life by lubricating them before each use. Call it a bit of caffeine for bits.
  • Custom-made automatic drill stops - Drill down 1/4" and you're fine, go any further and suddenly your PVC pipe has a hole in it. Nobody wants to swim in their bathroom, especially if a hair dryer just happens to be plugged in. Ensure that you drill to the proper length by using a piece of cork. Measure the protruding length of bit frequently to ensure the stop hasn't shifted. Masking tape on the drill bit also works, but put it on thick to make sure you stop at the right depth.
  • Stop caulk tubes from drying out - Use a wire nut to cap off the tip of the tube. Next time you go to use the caulk, remove the nut and you'll be good to go. If you're looking for wired nuts, try the funny farm - they're the weird guys walking around with Red Bulls.
  • Stop bouncy hammers - If you hammer seems to bounce in all the wrong places after striking a nail, don't stress, simply sand the striking face of the hammer with an emery cloth. The face of the head may be too smooth and worn out. Sanding the face will create more friction and help stabilize the hammer.

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