Sometimes the key to making a fix is just knowing the
right product to use. We asked our team of professional carpenters, plumbers, painters, electricians
and fix-it gurus what their favorite products were, and this is what they
told us they never leave home without.
By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine:June 2008
The first time you use one of these, you may
just throw away all your other anchors. They
drive in easily without predrilling and they
hold firmly, just as they're supposed to. And
you only need a screwdriver to put them in.
The light-duty type shown is perfect
for hanging lighter shelving and artwork.
Use the toggle bolt–type for heavier shelving,
towel bars and curtain rods.
No matter what you have to fasten, inside or out, there's
almost always a drywall-style screw that can handle it. With thin, hardened
shanks, aggressive coarse threads (fine threads are just for metal
studs), and deep Phillips or square-drive heads, these screws are tough
enough to drive into most woods without stripping or breaking, and
usually without predrilling. Most pros keep a selection of coated exterior
deck screws on hand for dependable fastening even in treated
wood, and black, coarse-thread interior screws for everything
indoors—along with a few stainless steel and gold-colored screws for
special repairs like replacing stripped-out brass hinge screws.
Bumpers do lots more than just stop cabinet
doors from banging. Stick them
under ceramic pots or hot plates to keep
them from scratching tabletops; silence a
rattling toilet tank lid by placing them at
the corners of the tank; even stick them on
a doorstop if you have a door that rattles
because it's too loose. Note: Use felt
bumpers on varnished wood surfaces. The
plastic types can eventually leave marks.
A single scratch or chip can make a beautiful new appliance look like something
you found out in the alley. Fortunately, you can make those eyesores, even
up to 1/4-in. diameter, almost completely vanish with color-matched epoxy
The trick is to fill the chip with multiple thin coats instead of trying
to cover it all at once. Use the porcelain-type version for stovetops and sinks.
For mysterious, quantum-mechanical reasons,
the screws that hold handles and
doorknobs always eventually work loose.
A few drops of thread-locking compound
will permanently fix the problem, yet still
allow you to remove the screw with ordinary
tools if you need to later. A heavier duty
variety is also available for large bolts
Two-part filler has to be mixed and it
doesn't rinse off with water, so it's not as
user friendly as other fillers. However, it's
much tougher and a much better choice for
any hole bigger than a nail head, especially
outdoors. And it's not just for wood—you
can patch metal, fiberglass—even concrete.
Two-part epoxy glue is rock-hard, fills huge gaps, bonds to almost anything
and dries very quickly. Some brands now come with an applicator
tip that automatically mixes the two parts so you can spread it like a regular
glue, without mixing. It's perfect for gluing irregular shapes and dissimilar
materials to each other. Most epoxies set in five minutes, but you
can buy quicker-setting types that allow you to just hold pieces in place
for a minute, without any
Sometimes the fixer needs a fix too. These specialized bandages stay in place
and protect hands better than standard, one-size-fits-everything bandages.
Fingertip and knuckle bandages allow you to finish your project without bleeding all over it.
Keep a package of assorted fender washers in
your toolbox and pretty soon you'll wonder
how you got by without them.
for increasing the holding power of a small
screw, but they also make indestructible
shims for furniture, woodworking, and interior
and exterior building projects.
Remove stickers, tar, gum,
dried paint drops, grease and a
host of other unwanted substances
quickly and without a
lot of frustrating
scrubbing by using
They're a little stinky,
but they make short
work of nasty, gummy
messes like price tag
Quick-setting drywall compound
lets you finish small
repairs and fill deep holes in
minutes instead of waiting days
for premixed joint compound
to dry. The small boxes—available
in most home centers and
paint stores—are also easier to
store and more likely to get
used up than large bags or
Silicone dries quickly and invisibly and doesn't attract dirt, making it a good lubricant
for drawer rollers, window tracks, door locks, bike parts, and other plastic, metal and
rubber surfaces. It also helps protect metal against rust.
Lithium grease is a long-lasting, weather-resistant (though somewhat messy) lubricant
for garage door tracks, car doors and latches, and other metal parts that get heavy
Natural or stained woodwork is beautiful, but scratches can really stand out—especially
with darker stains. You can make these scratches disappear by touching them
up with a stain marker. It's simple to use, and much cheaper than buying whole cans
Start with a lighter color, and if the scratch still shows, go over it with a darker
shade. Unless the varnish is in bad shape and needs to be recoated, that's usually
all you have to do to make older woodwork look almost new again.
Sooner or later, every
sprayed ceiling is going
to get a water stain or a
scrape. Spray texture in
a can won't perfectly
match every ceiling
texture, but it's usually
close, and a lot easier
than respraying a
whole ceiling. Before
spraying, seal the patch
with a stain-blocking
primer, cover the floor
and furniture, and
practice your technique
on scrap plywood
Water-based sealers do a good job most of the time, but for really
tough problems like wood knots, yellowed water stains, heavy
smoke damage, and other stains that bleed through paint, pigmented
solvent-based sealers (BIN and KILZ are two brands) are
Just brush or roll the sealer over the problem spot,
let it dry for an hour, then paint over it with either latex or oil
Available up to 8 in.
square, these stiff metal
patches eliminate the
of squaring a hole,
putting in wood backer
boards, and buying,
cutting and taping the
drywall. They're a great
fast fix for holes and big
cracks in walls before
Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.
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