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14 Tips and Tricks for Using and Storing String

From cutting pipes to a quick measuring tape substitute, check out these brilliant ways to store and use string.

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Fh05nov 463 10 006 Jvedit Tips And Tricks For Using And Storing StringFamily handyman

String Dispensers

Here’s a great way to reuse empty CD/DVD containers. Drill a hole in the top for the string to slide through, then screw the lid under a shelf and snap on the string-loaded container. Pull down and snip off the desired length. You’ll never worry that your ball of string will roll away across the floor, dragging its tail behind it!

cutting a pvc pipe with a piece of stringFamily handyman

Cut Pipe with a String

It’s almost as fast as a saw and fits into tight spots saws can’t. To give the string a starting point, cut a shallow notch with a file or hacksaw blade. Then pull the string back and forth to slice through PVC or ABS pipe.

removing a cork from a wine bottle with a piece of stringFamily handyman

Reopen a Bottle of Wine

Whenever you put the cork back on a bottle of wine, slip in a short length of knotted nylon cord alongside. When you’re ready for another glass, it’s easy to just pull the cord.

measuring a baseball with stringFamily handyman

String Measure

If you need to measure the outside diameter of a cylinder or sphere, use a flexible measuring tape. If you don’t have one on hand, go for a cheap and simple solution with a length of yarn, twine or string.

Wrap one loop around the item being measured, mark it with your finger or a black marker, then lay the yarn on top of a tape measure or ruler. Just be careful to exert the same force on the string when you wrap it around the object as you do when measuring.

a roll of packing tape and some string on top of a cardboard boxFamily handyman

Zip-Strip Packaging

End the frustration of never finding where the tape ends on your storage boxes, presents and packages. Just lay a piece of string at the seam under the tape, leaving about an inch or two of string uncovered. Instead of searching for the tape end, just pull the string.

homemade yarn tree decorations for the holidaysCountry Woman

Yuletide Yarn Tree

If you have leftover yarn from knit, crochet or other projects, wrap it around a foam cone to create cozy Christmas trees. Secure the yard with tacky glue or a low-temperature glue gun. For added fun, repeat the process with coordinating metallic yarn or other color, wrapping lightly enough to reveal some of the base yarn underneath.

Want more options for trimming your yarn trees? Attach buttons, yarn or ribbon bows, beads, small silk flowers or pinecones, silver or gold charms, tiny tree ornaments or even costume jewelry.

Keep Your Yarn from Tangling

People who like to crochet and knit like having multiple skeins of yarn in their work baskets so they can change colors quickly. Now you can keep the yarn from tangling by making clips on the side of your basket with Sugru and feeding the yarn through them to prevent tangling.

Photo: Courtesy of Sugru.

man carrying large piece of plywoodFamily Handyman

Rope is the Ultimate Extra Hand

Carrying a sheet of plywood by yourself is awkward and hard on your back. The best method I’ve found is to make a loop from an 18-ft. length of rope and wrap it around two corners. Now I can use the rope as a handle. — Ken Porter.

Yarn Monster craft madewith green yard and googly eyesAnne Murlowski for Family Handyman

Yarn Monster

Scare away the things that go bump in the night with a friendly yarn monster.

Wrap yarn around a small piece of cardboard (approximately three inches wide) 50 times. Cut the end and carefully remove the cardboard. Tie a second piece of yarn tightly around the middle of the yarn bundle, then cut the looped edges. Flair out the yarn to make it look the way you like.

Accent with googly eyes and looped pipe-cleaner arms, carefully tucked through the center of the yarn ball. You can make cat toys out of yarn, too.

person cutting a piece of rope with duct tape at the endFamily handyman

At the End of Your Nylon Rope?

Here’s another smart way to keep nylon rope from fraying when you cut it. Firmly wrap three turns of duct tape around the rope and cut it with a sharp utility knife. The tape makes it easier to cut the rope and keeps the braiding tight. Thanks to reader Tim King for lassoing this fine tip.

cat playing witha homemade yarn toyFamily handyman

DIY Cat Wand

You probably already know cats love chasing after wand toys. But cats destroy them quickly, and you end up buying one after another and cleaning up your cat’s mess. Stop the spending cycle with this simple DIY cat wand project that you can make with stuff lying around the house.

To begin, drill a small hole about one inch down from the top of a dowel. Use this hole to string a piece of brightly colored twine through and secure one end with several knots. Leave an excess amount of twine, about 10 to 12 inches, so you can tie fabric scraps and jingle bells to the end.

Take all your fabric scraps and tie them to the end of the twine. Next, tie jingle bells to different pieces of fabric.  

a spool of jute twine in the bottom of a milk jug cut in half with a string going through the top opening of the other half of the jugfamily handyman

Tangle-Free Twine Storage

Can’t find your twine to bundle that pile of recyclables? Try reader Norm Hoch’s slick solution.

Cut the bottom four inches off a 1/2-gallon plastic milk or orange juice jug and load the container with a fresh spool of twine that unwinds from the middle. Then thread the twine through the jug opening and tape the jug back together. Cut an “X” in the cap with a utility knife to keep the twine from falling back into the jug.

hanging a laser from string to make a mark on the groundFamily handyman

Hang a Laser

An inexpensive keychain laser can be modified into a plumb bob with a bit of sturdy string. Just like that, you’re ready to make your mark!

homemade twine dispenser made from a recycled laundry containerFamily handyman

Laundry Detergent Twine Dispenser

Prevent balls of twine from tangling up by making a twine dispenser from an empty plastic detergent jug. Cut the bottom off the jug and drill a hole in the cap. Screw the jug to your shop wall with the spout facing down. Drop the ball of twine into the jug, thread it through the hole and screw the cap on. — Paul Chupek.

Alex Shoemaker
Alex is an avid DIYer but had little experience before purchasing his first home in 2019. A Family Handyman subscription was one of his first purchases after becoming a homeowner, and he's been hooked ever since. When he’s not working, he can be found fixing up his 1940s Florida home or relaxing on the beach with his family.