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30 Tool Hacks You Should Know By Now

Make your tools more versatile with these amazing hacks.

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How to Magnetize a Screwdriver

How to Magnetize a Screwdriver

Magnetize the end of a screwdriver to drive screws with just one hand. This hint is especially useful for working in tight spaces where there isn’t room for you to hold a screw with one hand while you turn the screwdriver with the other.

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Hands-Free Light Hack

Hands-Free Light Hack

Make a hands-free light in a snap with a flashlight, a pair of pliers and a rubber band. Place the flashlight in the jaws of the pliers; then wrap a rubber band around the handles of the pliers. That’s it! Point the light wherever you need it.

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Brush with a DrillFamily Handyman

Brush with a Drill

Got a big scrubbing job on your list? Chuck a brush into your drill and save the elbow grease. You'll find drill-ready brushes for all kinds of scrubbing from Drillbrush.

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Hammer Cushion

Hammer Cushion

A rubber chair leg cap instantly converts a hammer into a rubber mallet. And if you want to drive a nail without denting the surrounding wood, cut a hole in the rubber cap. Pound until the rubber strikes wood, then finish driving the nail with a nail set. A 1-1/8-in. rubber cap fits tightly over most hammers and costs about $1 at home centers and hardware stores.

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Lighted Screwdriver Hack

Lighted Screwdriver Hack

No need for fancy hand tools with built-in LED lights, opt for this lighted screwdriver hack instead. When working in a dark space such as inside a cabinet, make your own lighted screwdriver by taping a keychain-size flashlight to the shaft. It'll shine the light right where you need it.

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Bobby Pin Nail Holder

Bobby Pin Nail Holder

There's no need to risk hammering a finger when working with tiny nails or in tight quarters. A common bobby pin makes a great nail holder—and keeps your fingers at a safe distance! Once the nail is started, remove the bobby pin and continue hammering away.

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Vise-Grips to Pull Nails

Vise-Grips to Pull Nails

Vise-Grip pliers make great nail pullers. The tool locks onto the nail, creating a secure hold, and the curve of the head provides excellent leverage. Use a putty knife under the pliers if you plan to salvage the material after removing the nails.

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Long-Reach ScrewdriverFamily 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.

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Socket Wrench ScrewdriverFamily Handyman

Socket Wrench Screwdriver

Sometimes there's just no way to make even a short screwdriver work in a tight place. Use a Phillips head screwdriver bit with a ratchet wrench. The hex shaft of most bits fits into the 1/4-in. socket. Plus: 25 gift ideas for the budding home mechanic.

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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 costs less than $15 at home centers.

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Measuring StickFamily Handyman

Measuring Stick

If you can remember the length of your hammer then it can be a handy measuring device in a pinch. We've got more measuring tips and tricks where that came from!

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Lumber SplitterFamily Handyman

Lumber Splitter

The claw serves as a mini-axe to split wood blocks or chop off protruding board edges. Find out what to look for in choosing the best hammer.

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nail holder with hammer

Safer Trim Nailing

Here’s an oldie-but-goodie that’ll save your fingertips when you’re driving small brads or nails into awkward spots. Push the nail into a thin strip of card-board to hold it in position while nailing and to shield the wood from an errant hammer blow.

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Give Paint-Clogged Screw Heads a TapFamily Handyman

Give Paint-Clogged Screw Heads a Tap

If you live in an old house, you've probably run into screw heads clogged with layers of paint. Instead of trying to scrape out the paint, try this trick: Simply take a driver bit, set it on top of the screw head, and give it a couple of taps with a hammer until it seats itself in the screw's slots. Plus: 14 handy hints for painting.

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HH Nail drill bit

Quick and Easy Pilot Holes

From time to time you may find yourself working with temperamental material that is prone to splitting when you hammer into it. The best solution is to drill a pilot hole, but what do you do if you don’t have the proper size bit on hand? Sure, you could make a run to the hardware store, but why not use a nail to get your pilot hole started?

Simply lop off the head of the nail, insert the nail body into your drill chuck, and you’re ready to roll! This how-to breaks down all the steps needed to start implementing this great hack.

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drill depth starterFamily 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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Make a Squeegee From a Rake

Make a Squeegee From a Rake

Need a squeegee in a hurry? Take a piece of pipe insulation and use a couple cable ties to fasten it to the back of a garden rake. Works like a charm, and you don't even have to take it off to use the rake. Check out this other pipe insulation hack for your home.

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Gentle-Grip PliersFamily Handyman

Gentle-Grip Pliers

Here's an oldie with a twist. Use pieces of garden hose or other tubing to soften the jaws of slip-joint or other pliers so you can grip plated surfaces without damage. The twist? Size them so you can slide them up the handles to keep them handy. Here are 20 more cool tool hacks to try.

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Use a Rubber Band to Grip Stripped Screws

Use a Rubber Band to Grip Stripped Screws

We've all stripped a couple of screws in our day. And it normally isn't a big setback until you need to unscrew it, that is. So the next time you're in this situation, try a rubber band for a screw grip.

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Long Reach ShearsFamily Handyman

Long Reach Shears

Slip PVC pipes over the handles of your pruning shears and tape them in place to extend your reach and clip high branches without a ladder. Plus: How to Trim a Tree

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Drill Bit GirdleFamily Handyman

Drill Bit Girdle

Save those wide rubber bands that are wrapped around broccoli and other veggies and stretch them over your electric or cordless drill. Use them for onboard storage of smaller drill and driver bits and screws. Wrangle the rest of your drill bits and other pointy tools with this wall-mounted 'pincushion.'

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Makeshift Trench Tool

Makeshift Trench Tool

I had to dig a 2" wide x 6" deep x 50' trench for low voltage wire between my rock walkway and landscape rock planting area, about 4-6" wide area to work in. I started with a trowel and then moved to 2" wide x 12" long pry bar on my hands and knees, not great for my old knees and slow. An idea came to mind, why not mount the pry bar on an old hoe handle I had in the garage. It worked great! Click here for some more gardening maintenance tips!

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Easy Apple Spear

Easy Apple Spear

Picking up unwanted fallen fruit under a tree can be a chore, but this tool will make the job much easier on your back. Attach a frog spear head to the end of a broom handle or extension pole. Slightly mashing smaller apples with your foot first makes spearing them a bit easier.

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Magnetic BroomFamily Handyman

Magnetic Broom

When you spill screws, nails, brads or other small metal parts on a dusty shop floor, pick them up in seconds, minus the dust. Screw a 3-in. dia. pot magnet on the end of a wood dowel to create your 'picker-upper.' To use this tool, place an inside-out sandwich bag over the magnet and start sweeping the area. The hardware will leap up to the powerful magnet as you 'sweep' the floor. To unload and bag the metal pieces in one quick step, just pull the bag off the magnet. For another clever use for magnets, check out this bathroom storage project.

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clamp

Makeshift Small Parts Clamp

Make a small-parts clamp by wrapping a rubber band around the jaws of a needle-nose pliers. The rubber band keeps the jaws of the pliers clamped together for holding small items. It works especially well for getting nuts into inaccessible spots or for starting small finish nails. — Marvin J. Dirks. Plus: 28 Secret Clamping Tricks from Woodworkers

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Nonslip ToolsFamily Handyman

Nonslip Tools

When you're working on the roof, wrap rubber bands around tools to help them stay put. The rubber will grip on roofs with up to a 6/12 slope. Keep yourself from slipping off the roof with these tips.

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Easy-to-Read MarkingsFamily Handyman

Easy-to-Read Markings

Stamped-in tool markings can be tough to read. To solve this, buy some white fingernail polish, brush it on the tool and quickly wipe it with a clean cloth. The white polish stays in the grooves, and the numbers are easy to read at a glance. You can use lacquer thinner to wipe it if the polish dries too quickly.

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Metal Shavings CollectorFamily Handyman

Metal Shavings Collector

A simple way to keep metal fragments and shavings from flying all over when you're drilling is to put a magnet next to the bit. This keeps metal pieces off the floor, your vise and your body. However, you still need to wear eye protection. When you're done, just clean off the magnet over a trash can.

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Backward Reciprocating Saw BladeFamily Handyman

Backward Reciprocating Saw Blade

Recip 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.

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2 wrenches

How To Remove Rusted Bolts Without Heat

When you’re faced with a particularly stubborn bolt that just won’t budge, try locking together two wrenches and attacking that sucker again. The extra wrench will provide more leverage, hopefully enough to remove the bolt. Of course you could use a pipe, but the beauty of this tip is that if you have one wrench on hand, there’s usually another nearby. Try this little project for simple wrench storage.