10 Secret Power Tool Hacks for DIYers

Updated: Dec. 19, 2023

Do you know all of the secrets to using your drill/driver? Unlock the true potential of your power tools with these clever tool hacks.

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Hooking an eye hook onto an allen wrench | Construction Pro Tips

Easy Eye Hook Removal

Eye hooks are great little fasteners with a wide variety of applications. But removing them can be a bit of a pain, especially if you try to do it by hand.

Instead of putting your thumbs through a world of hurt, try this simple trick for eye hook removal: Put the long end of an allen wrench into the chuck of a drill and then use the hook end to spin the eye hook out. It’s as easy as that!

Eye hooks and bungee cords make for great paper towel storage- learn more here.

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Drywall being sanded off of a drywall knife | Construction Pro Tips

Get Rid of Caked-On Drywall

In the best case scenario, drywall knives get cleaned pretty much as soon as all of the mudding work is done. Drywall mud is (obviously) much easier to clean up before it dries and hardens. But don’t worry if you end up with knives that are so coated in caked-on mud that they’ve become practically useless.

Instead, take out your favorite random orbit sander and get to work. Pick a grit around 120 and just sand off the dried-on mud exactly the same as you would the mud off of a wall. Just make sure you aren’t too aggressive and don’t end up damaging the blade.

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Rolled up tow strap connected to notched dowel | Construction Pro Tips

The Best Way To Roll Up Tie-Down Straps

The best way to prevent your tie-down straps from becoming a big tangled mess is to roll them up when your done using them, and here’s a simple trick to help you do just that.

Create a “specialty tool” that is really just a 1/4-in. dowel with a notch in the end. Make the notch at least as long as the width of the strap. Stick the dowel into a power drill with the notched part sticking out.

Now, all you need to do is slide the end of the strap through the notch in the dowel and spin the drill at a gradual pace. The dowel will spin the strap in a slow circle and wrap it into a neat circular roll.

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catching dust from a drill in a shoebox

Do Your Eyes a Favor and Save a Shoebox

Getting dust in your eyes is potentially dangerous and just all-around not very much fun. And when you are drilling in the ceiling, sometimes even the best eye protection does not quite seem to be able to catch all of the little particles that flutter down from above, intent on finding and lodging themselves in your pupils.

Thankfully, there’s an easy fix. The next time you have to drill a bunch of holes into a ceiling, grab a left over shoebox and poke your drill bit through it so that the box’s opening faces the same way as the point of the bit. Then, attach the drill bit to your drill and get to work. The box will catch a majority of the dust that falls from your newly-created hole, saving both your eyes and time on clean up.

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Need a hole in hard soil? Use a Drill!
Family Handyman

Need a Hole in Hard Soil? Use a Drill.

Have you ever waited too long to install your reflective driveway markers and discovered the ground was frozen? Or tried to install a yard sale sign in dry soil that’s as hard as concrete?

Well, why not treat it as if it really were concrete and drill holes into it with a masonry bit? This 3/8-in. x 12-in. bit is available online.

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Lift heavy stuff with a flat pry bar
Family Handyman

Lift Heavy Stuff With a Flat Pry Bar

If you’ve ever had to remove a solid-core door, you know how heavy they can be. Lifting them up to reinstall hinge pins can be a challenge if you’re working alone, but a flat pry bar (aka “flat bar”) can give you just the leverage you need.

If your flat bar won’t raise the door high enough, install a small block of wood at the fulcrum point of the pry bar to increase the lifting distance. Hold the block in place with a small screw and washer. Make sure the screw doesn’t poke through. If it does, grind off the end so it won’t damage the floor. This same setup can be used to raise bottom drywall sheets off the floor for fastening.

Here are more tips and tricks for heavy lifting.

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Cutting Foam With a Jigsaw | Construction Pro Tips

The Best Way to Cut Through Foam

If you do it wrong, cutting through foam can be a spectacularly messy job. The serrated teeth of a saw blade have a tendency to tear and rip up foam, sending little foamy bits floating into the air. And then those little bits cling to everything and are almost impossible to sweep up.

Thankfully, there’s a simple way to create a tool that cuts through foam without ripping it up. Before attempting to cut the foam take a well-used jigsaw blade and, holding it with a pair of locking pliers, grind off the the teeth and create a smooth knife edge. Your jigsaw will give you a nice, clean cut through foam every time.

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long reach screwdriver
Family Handyman

Long-Reach Screwdriver

When you need to extend the reach of your cordless screwdriver, just pull the shaft out of a four-way screwdriver and clamp it in the chuck. Plus, check out these 30 tool hacks you should know by now.

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drill depth starter
Family Handyman

A Simpler Depth Stop

Chances are you’ve seen the trick of using electrical tape to mark a drill bit when you want to stop a hole at a specific target depth. That’s a great tip, but if you’re drilling multiple holes that tape can get ragged pretty quick, and once that happens, it’s no longer an accurate depth stop.

Instead, use a permanent marker to indicate the target depth and you’ll get much more use out of it before it wears down. Once you’ve finished your project, simply wipe the drill bit with some paint remover or Goo Gone, and the marker ink should come right off.

To make this hack more effective, you’ll want to choose a marker color that stands out against the drill bit. Ideally, you’d have a few markers in your tool bag, depending on what kind of twist drill bit you prefer to use.

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Family Handyman

Backward Reciprocating Saw Blade

Reciprocating saw blades don’t have to go in with the teeth pointing down. You can reverse the blade for flush cuts—like after wall framing, when you cut sill plates out of doorways.

Up next, check out these 100 home improvement hacks you’ll wish you knew sooner.