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28 Ways to Repurpose Office Supplies at Home

Learn how to reuse common office supplies such as paper clips, dry erase markers, etc., around your home. You won't believe what else these regular ol' items can do!

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HH secure cutting board with rubber bands

No-Slip Cutting Board

Most cutting boards don’t come with any kind of rubber surface on the bottom to prevent them from sliding on a countertop, but with a couple of rubber bands, you can stabilize your cutting board and keep it from moving around during use. Slip on two rubber bands—one at each end of the cutting board—and you’re good to go. Make sure that the rubber bands lay flat and aren’t twisted when you put them on so the board will sit steady on your countertop. Check out some more brilliant rubber band hacks for your home.

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HH flexible sanding block notebook

Flexible Sanding Block

Sanding curves is tricky. Sometimes you need a sanding pad that’s both firm and flexible. A small notepad works great. Just wrap sandpaper around the pad and bend the pad to whatever arc you need. Slip the one end of the sandpaper between the pages to help hold it in place on the pad. Give this a try the next time you’re working on a project that has curves and tough to reach spots.

We asked our favorite woodworkers to share some of their favorite shop tips. Check out these 10 great woodworking advice to help you work faster and smarter in your own shop.

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HH dry latex gloves

No More Smelly Gloves!

It’s easy to rinse off grimy latex gloves and hang them over the bathtub to dry after a cleaning job, but I found the insides of the gloves would often stay damp and smell funky the next time I used them. Turning them inside out is a chore and can tear the glove, so I came up with this simple solution to let both the inside and outside dry at the same time.  Place a binder clip on the neck of both of the gloves and loop a rubber band or a bungee cord through the clips. Next, use a pushpin in the wall to hang it up. Works great, and your latex cleaning gloves will be set to go for your next job!  — Chris Register

Admit it—your house could be cleaner. That’s where we come in. Check out these 39 tips and hints to get your house clean and keep it that way.

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HH hobby knife exacto knife compas cutter

Hobby Knife Compas Cutter

You can add a hobby knife to a compass that is designed to accept different sized pencils and pens in order to make curved templates for any of your DIY projects. And if you decide to try out this hobby knife compass cutter, we recommend tightening the screw in the center of the compass in order to keep the radius a consistent length.

On a similar note, big circles are tough to cut, too, especially when they need to be perfectly round. Learn how to make a compass arm for your router. And go check out these wood router basics for more tips and tricks!

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HH sharpening scissor blades on coffee mug

Coffee Mug Sharpening Stone

The bottom of most ceramic coffee mugs have a flat, unglazed ring that is the perfect surface for giving that dull knife or blade a quick sharpening. Just run the blade across the bottom of the mug at a 45-degree angle, working from the one end of the blade to the tip. Next, slide the blade downward in one direction, keeping your fingers out of the way as you work.

This isn’t a perfect solution for continually sharpening your blades, but if you need to quickly sharpen and clean up the edge of a blade this method will do in a pinch. We do recommend eventually investing in a blade sharpening kit. Now go check out how to sharpen your gardening tools.

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HH sharpie sharpies rubbing alcohol

Bring Dead Sharpies Back to Life

To bring your permanent marker back to life, simply remove the back from the maker. This will be different for each brand of permanent marker, for Sharpies simply remove the back nib. Next, deposit a few drops of isopropyl “rubbing” alcohol onto the felt material inside. Shake the marker a bit to ensure the rubbing alcohol is absorbed. It’s the solvent that the ink is mixed with that dries out first, making the pigment unable to flow. Once the felt absorbs the rubbing alcohol for a couple of minutes the marker will be practically good as new!

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HH Staple Remover key ring

Brilliant Use for a Staple Remover

A staple remover has perfectly sized thin teeth that make them perfect to easily slide between the rings of a key ring. When you clamp them down, it spreads the key rings apart and makes it easy to slide a new key on. This saves you the hassle of trying to pry open the key ring with your nails.

Learn more DIY office hacks here!

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eraser to clean keyboardFamily Handyman

Erase Marks on a Keyboard

Dirt and oils from your fingertips can build up on a computer keyboard. But did you know that you can remove marks from a keyboard using a simple eraser? A standard pink eraser such as the one shown in the photo works perfectly, you just need to use a bit of elbow grease. Use a corner of the eraser to press down onto each key and rub away the marks.

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writing notes on washing machine

Write Notes on the Washer

When you put a load of clothes into your washing machine, use a dry-erase marker to note on the lid which items should not go into the dryer. That way, whoever switches the load from the washing machine to the dryer will know which items to leave out for line drying.

The enamel finish on most washing machine lids is similar to a whiteboard, and dry-erase markers can be removed easily with a dry paper towel.

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to-go coffee cut watering can

To-Go Coffee Cup to Water Plants

A clean to-go coffee cup with a lid makes an excellent watering can. The hole in the lid is the perfect size for pouring the water slowly, so you don’t overwater your plants. This quick watering can is especially useful for plants such as aloe vera and cacti that don’t require much water. Or for office plants, as clean to-go coffee cups with lids are usually readily available. Be sure to wash the cup and lid thoroughly before reusing it as a watering can. Here are 10 attractive houseplants you literally can’t kill.

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wrap rubber bands around hanger

Office Supply Hanger Hack

For some types of clothing, plastic, metal and even wood hangers don’t do their job. Items such as blouses, dresses, silk robes, etc., tend to slip off of hangers and onto the floor time and time again.

To avoid the headache of rewashing clean clothes because they’ve picked up dirt from the floor, you could purchase specially coated or velvet-covered hangers—but that can be quite expensive. Instead, try this simple and inexpensive hanger hack: Wrap a rubber band around each side of your existing hanger, as shown. (It helps to twist the bands around at least two times and spread them out.) The rubber will keep even the slipperiest of fabrics in place.

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secret pen cash stash

Pen Cash Stash

When you’re heading out for your next travel adventure, make this secret pen cash stash for your in-case-of-emergency money. First of all, make sure the pen you choose is opaque. Then select one that can be disassembled easily, without any unnecessary tiny parts. Finally, make sure that there’s enough room to fit a rolled up bill around the ink tube, and that the pen still operates when you put it back together with the money inside. A standard, no frills ballpoint pen, as shown here, works wonderfully!

Carefully disassemble the pen and roll up your bill to a size that will fit inside the opaque sleeve of the pen. Then insert the bill and replace the ink tube and head of the pen. Put it in your shirt pocket and thieves will be none the wiser that you have a secret pen cash stash! Check out these other secret hiding places you’ve never thought of.

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chalk a metal file

Chalk Metal Files

Metal files are a workshop staple. Metal files come in handy for knocking down rough spots after making cuts or for removing sharp edges. But when you use metal files with soft, non-ferrous metals such as aluminum or brass, files can clog quick. This hint will help: Rub a piece of standard chalk along the teeth of the file before using it on the workpiece. The coating will help to keep the file from clogging up as fast when working with softer metals

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writing breaker number inside outlet cover

Note Breaker Number On Outlet Cover


I discovered this useful tip after some trial and error and many, many trips up and down the two flights of stairs in my home: Once I’ve determined which circuit that a switch or outlet belongs to, I jot down the breaker number on the inside of the outlet cover or light switch plate. This way the next time I need to work on that switch or receptacle, I know which breaker to flip and just a single trip down to the electric panel is all that’s needed. — Jason Nizolek

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HH frozen envelope Family Handyman

Put Envelopes in the Freezer

I like to mail cash for family birthdays, but sometimes I forget to include the money before sealing the envelope. My solution is to place the envelope in the freezer for an hour or so. The seal opens up without any problem so I can fill the envelope and tape the letter shut before sending it on its way. – James Staley. Plus: 20 more odd home hacks you’ll wish you knew sooner.

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binder clip clamps

Easily Align Your Boards During Glue-ups

Glue-ups can be really frustrating if your boards start to wander out of alignment while applying clamping pressure. If you don’t have any spring clamps to keep the boards aligned, large binder clips will suffice. I keep some near my workbench all the time for this exact reason. – Bill Segura

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poster putty computer cleanerFamily Handyman

Clean Your Computer Ports

I use my computer a lot in my workshop. Once, the magnetic charging port collected a bunch of metal filings. I tried blowing them out with compressed air, but that didn’t work, as the filings were small and the magnet wouldn’t let go of them. What finally did the trick was sticking a bit of poster putty in the port. The putty doesn’t clog up the port and successfully removes anything that might clog up the connection. – Travis Larson

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Correcting Sagging Shelves

Quick Fix for Sagging Shelves

Here’s a clever way to stop shelves from sagging in the middle. Cut plywood panels sized to fit inside some unwanted books. The panels also need to be the height of the space between your shelves. Cut out enough pages to fit the panels’ thickness. Then, build up the sides and the front edge of each panel to match the size and shape of the book. Paint the panels to match the books or any inconspicuous color and glue them into the books. Stagger the supports a bit so they aren’t lined up right in the center. Check out this other amazing DIY project using a stack of old books.

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lubricate a lock with a pencil

Lubricate a Lock with a Pencil

Locksmiths have long used powdered graphite to lubricate the workings of locks, and if your key refuses to slide fully into the lock, you can do the same. But there’s an easier (and less expensive) option than going out and buying a tube of powdered graphite. All you need is a pencil. Simply rub the teeth of the key with a sharp pencil until the surface is covered with graphite. Don’t be shy, load it up with a thick coat! Then insert the key into the lock again, which will deposit the graphite into the lock. Do this several times, if needed, until the key glides in smoothly.

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Rubber Band Paint Can

Rubber Band Paint Can Accessory

I hate when my paint cans get dried paint all over them, so now I keep a box of rubber bands with my paint supplies. Before I start painting, I wrap a rubber band around the paint can so that it stretches across the opening. I use the rubber band to wipe excess paint from the brush instead of the can’s rim, which helps keeps my cans clean. — Kate Smith. Check out these other smart painting hacks!

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paperclip binder for cord

Rubber Band and Paperclip Binder

No more tangles! Keep small extension cords bundled neatly in storage by adding this simple, office supply-inspired binder: Attach a small paperclip onto a small rubber band. Wrap the rubber band around the bundled cord as many times as necessary to create a snug hold. Then hook the paperclip on the rubber band again, holding the wrap in place.

Store your neatly bundled extension cords in a drawer or bin and never worry about having to detangle a mess of cords the next time you need one.

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chalk marker under hood of car

Chalk Marker Under Hood

If you have a vehicle with a large, exposed air filter cover that’s flat, like the one on my truck, you can use a chalk marker to write important information about when you last changed the oil, air filter, spark plug, etc. The marker I used is the kind that requires ammonia-based cleaner (such as Windex) to clean it off, so any water that splashes into the engine compartment won’t erase it. If you’re like me and always forget to write this information in the car manual, this tip will remind you every time you pop the hood. — Hank Huff. Here are even more smart automotive handy hints.

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stripped screw handy hints rubber band

Rubberband Stripped Screw

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. Place a wide rubber band in between the screwdriver and the stripped screw head, then apply hard, but slow force as you turn the screw. The rubber band should grip the stripped screw head and allow you to extract the screw.

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dry erase board permanent marker handy hint

Erase Permanent Marker

Who hasn’t accidentally written on a white board with a permanent marker? Luckily, it’s easier to remove than you think. Simply draw over your permanent marker artwork with a dry erase marker, and then wipe the marks away with an eraser or dry cloth. Your dry erase board will be good as new!

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HH File folders under kitchen sink organization

Use File Folders for Kitchen Organization

File folders can be used for more than just organizing papers and magazines in your office. They can also be used for organization in your kitchen. We filled file folders up with the clutter that normally barricades the cabinet under the kitchen sink. Place all of your kitchen cleaning supplies into file folders, putting the most frequently used items towards the front.

This kitchen organization hack is so easy and satisfying!

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Family Handyman

Picture Frame Message Board

I’m all for dry-erase message boards, but they’re usually pretty unattractive. So I make message boards using nice picture frames. To make these message boards, grab a picture frame and some paper. Cut the paper to fit the frame and set it in behind the glass. The glass makes an excellent dry erase surface! — Jessie Dawson

These 25 why-didn’t-I-think-of-that handy hints for the Home Cook will help you save time, get organized and work more efficiently in your kitchen.