Nine tricks that are a handyman's best kept secrets

When it comes to hammering, sawing, screwing, drilling and painting, many of us shudder simply at the idea of picking up a paint brush or power tool. But no matter how much we hate it, most of us end up doing at least a few repairs around the house. A nail here, a bit of paint there... wasn't so bad after all, was it? Here are a few simple tricks that will help you transform your next household repair from a chore into a pleasure...

1. Drip-free cans

Paint, varnish and stain most often come in cans. When you dip the brush in, you can easily end up with far too much paint and wiping the brush on the side of the opening can cause a real mess. To avoid dripping down the side of the can, you can span a rubber band (or the cut off upper end of a rubber glove) across the top of the can opening and wipe the brush across it to remove the excess paint. Secure the rubber band to each side of the can with tape to make sure it doesn't slide off. If you can't find a rubber band, a bit of wire will also do the job.

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2. Drill to the right depth

A drill is a powerful tool and it can be easy to get carried away with it which can have some annoying consequences. After all, do you really want a peephole in your bathroom when all you actually wanted to do was hang a picture in your living room? To avoid drilling too deep, simply measure the length of the plug and mark that length on the drill bit using some tape. Now when you start drilling, you'll know exactly when to stop.

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3. Safely hammer a nail

Hitting the nail on the head is easier said than done. And haven't we all had a bruised thumb to show for it? Here's a handy trick that will help you keep your digits intact while driving that nail in perfectly straight. Simply use a comb, a clothes pin or a bobby pin to hold the nail and start hammering away. No more throbbing thumbs!

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4. Sink screws faster

Depending on the tools you're using and the material you're trying to penetrate, sinking a screw can be a tough job. One thing that can help is rubbing the screw on a bar of soap before screwing it in. The soap acts as a lubricant and should make the drilling process easier.

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5. Cut tile

To cut tiles without leaving chipped edges or splinters, simply soak them in water for two hours before cutting. They'll absorb the moisture which will make it much easier to achieve precision cuts with a glass cutter.

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6. Keep track of nails, screws, bolts etc.

If you find that your screws, nails and other metal hardware is rolling around all over the place, try using an extra-strong magnet to keep them in one place. You can attach a magnet to the bottom of your hammer, or put one on a sweatband around your wrist.

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7. Magnetic drill bits

Who hasn't dealt with this: you need to drill above your head or in a very hard-to-reach spot and your screw keeps falling off the bit before you can get started! An easy solution is to stick a neodymium magnet to your drill bit. This will magnetize the entire bit and hold your screws until you can start drilling.

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8. Painting small objects

Painting a small, irregularly-shaped object can be very tricky. If you lay it on something, you have to turn it over at some point and then the paint will stick or rub off. Plus, it's hard to get at every angle. A good trick for making this much easier is to hang the object by a thread inside a cardboard box. This way you can reach every side of the object without have to touch it and if you need to spin it, you can simply twist the thread. When all the cracks are taped up, the box is also great protection against overspray!

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9. Clean paint trays

Cleaning out paint trays can be a thankless task — no matter how hard you try, there's always some paint left in the grooves. To avoid this problem, simply line the tray with some aluminum foil or plastic wrap before pouring in the paint. When you're done for the day, take out the liner and throw it away. Your tray is kept as good as new and ready for your next painting project!

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You can watch all these tricks being used in this video:

These tricks are helpful, but don't expect wonders. In the end, it's up to you to keep that drill straight and make sure the paint doesn't dry all streaky. But every little bit helps!




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