Why Didn’t I Think of That? 21 Handy Hacks for DIYers

Updated: May 22, 2024

These ingenious home hacks and solutions to common problems are simple, smart and straightforward.

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Easier Tape Wrangling

Tired of trying to find the end (the start) of the tape roll every time you use it? You can fold the end over, but then you have to cut off a chunk each time. Here’s a better solution: Stick a paper clip to the end of the roll right after you tear off a piece. It makes finding the tape end a lot easier and you don’t waste any tape. This works great with any kind of tape, but it’s really helpful with duct, masking and packing tape.

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Temporary extension cord exterior protection
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Temporary Extension Cord Protection

Extension cords on damp ground can trips GFCI’s. Frustrating. Instead of pushing the reset button every few minutes, cut notches in a plastic container and put the plug connection inside. Drill a couple 1/4 in. holes in the bottom of the container so any water that gets in can drain out.

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BBQ Tool Organizer

If you’re tired of your grilling tools taking up valuable space on your grill’s side trays, here’s the perfect solution: Screw hooks to the underside of your deck railing. Now you can hang each tool on its own hook. It’s a great way to keep the tools out of the way, yet right where you need them.

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Ice Cube Caulk Tool

An easy way to tool caulk is to take an ice cube and run it down the caulk line, applying steady pressure. The film of water that forms between the ice cube and the caulk makes a smooth, professional finish, and you can melt the cube in your hand to get any bead shape you want.

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Hose Connection Extender

If you have a hose bib that has become hard to reach due to encroaching shrubs or other obstructions, here’s a way to bring the water source out into the open. Run plastic pipe inside a PVC fence post and attach a hose bib and a nipple. Run a short piece of garden hose from the existing connection to the nipple, and the water supply will be right where you need it. To keep the post stable, run some threaded rod crosswise through the bottom of the post, dig a shallow hole and sink the post in concrete.

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clamshell plastic packaging
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Mini Seed Starters

If you like to grow plants from seed, here’s a great use for the clear plastic containers tomatoes and other produce come in. Make them into mini greenhouses! The containers have holes for air and drainage, so all you need to do is add soil and plant the seeds. When the seedlings grow tall, leave the lid open until it’s time to transplant them into the garden. You can reuse the containers year after year.

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fh14may_548_08_018 rake leaves on a tarp
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Smarter Leaf Collection

If you have lots of leaves to gather and haul to the compost site, rather than buy and fill a bunch of plastic leaf bags, save lots of time and effort by raking leaves into a Bagster bag from Amazon. That’s how to get rid of leaves in large loads. Pull the full bag into your trailer, transport the leaves and store the bag for the next season.

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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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Defuzz Your Window Screens

If you live around a lot of cottonwood trees, and getting the ‘fuzz’ off your window screens each year is a chore you dread, use a lint roller. Just do a few swipes across the screen surface and the fuzz comes right off. It works on spider webs and other debris, too. To clean high screens without using a ladder, duct-tape the lint roller to a pole.

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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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HH Cleaning with drill brush
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The Drill Brush

To make this drill brush you’ll need: a drill, a washer, a bolt, a long machine screw and a brush head replacement. Start by threading the machine screw though the brush head so the head of the screw rests in the brush head hole. On the other side of the brush head, slide on the washer and secure it in place with a nut. Make sure to tighten it well with a wrench. However, do not over-tighten, as this may cause the plastic brush head to crack. Next, attach the scrubber head to the drill. Now simply point and press the drill to start and let the drill brush do the work.

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move clothes on hangers

Move Clothes Masterfully

There’s no need to take your clothes off of hangers, fold them and stack them in boxes. Just grab a handful of your hanging clothes and wrap the tops of the hangers together using bendable electrical wire or a zip tie. Drape a garbage bag over the clothes, pulling the tops of the hangers through a hole in the bottom of the bag. Then cinch up the garbage bag handles and tie them together. Your clothes will stay organized and clean while moving them to your new home. To unpack, just remove the bag, untwist the wire and hang your clothes in the closet.

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HH push stick paint brush

Push Stick from an Old Paintbrush

After my paintbrushes wear out, I strip off the metal ferrule with a needle-nose pliers and some strength. I use the wood or composite handle for a table saw push stick, since I am frequently losing or misplacing mine, I figured it would be better to have more rather than less of these handy tools. I use a square to measure and mark and the angle I want to cut into the paintbrush. Next, I simply make two cuts on my band saw to make an angled notch in the bottom of the handle. Now it’s time to get to work! — reader Austin Garmo

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placing smartphone in pottery

Quick Smartphone Speaker

Use a small piece of pottery or a bowl to amplify the sound produced by your smartphone. You can create a quick smartphone speaker on your desk at work or in your living room at home by simply placing your smartphone (speaker side down) in a container made of ceramic, plastic or other hard material. The sound will bounce off of the hard bottom surface and amplify it throughout the surrounding area. It’s great for watching videos without headphones or playing music when hosting a party. Build these custom speaker stands, and learn a simple angle-finding technique in the process.

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HH broken glass cereal box

The Best Way to Deal with Broken Glass

Broken glass items such as bottles, light bulbs, glassware, mirrors and windows can be a serious safety hazard if not disposed of properly. Broken glass should always be placed inside of something that will not be punctured by shards of glass. So sweep broken glass into an empty cereal box before throwing it away in a garbage bag. This prevents the glass from ripping the garbage bag and creating another hazardous mess.

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Picture-Hanging Perfection

When you’re hanging a group of pictures, it can be hard to visualize exactly where everything should go. Try this next time: Lay them all out on the floor and get them arranged just how you like them. Then flip them over and make a little diagram of your grouping. Measure the distance of each picture’s hanger from the adjacent walls, and jot it down on your diagram. Transfer those hanger locations to the wall and you’ll have a perfect grouping every time.

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Ironing Board Back Saver

Working under the sink on your back isn’t exactly comfortable, especially when the sharp cabinet edge cuts into your shoulder blades. Make it more comfortable by lying on an ironing board. Set one end of the board inside the cabinet and support the other end with a scrap piece of 2×4. It won’t make the plumbing repair any easier, but it’s definitely easier on your back.

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FH11JUN_519_08_019 kitchen organization ideas
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Instant Kitchen Cabinet Organizer

A metal file organizer is the perfect cabinet organizer for storing baking sheets, cutting boards and pan lids. You can pick one up for a buck at a dollar store. To keep the organizer from sliding around, use rubber shelf liner or attach hook-and-loop tape to the cabinet base and the bottom of the organizer.

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Free Funnels

Use common plastic bottles for largemouth or very-fine funnels instead of store-bought ones. These funnels are disposable/recyclable when no longer needed. They’re great DIY painting tools for handling leftover paint. When you find an unusual bottle, cut the bottom off and store it for future use. Keep your collection in a box in the garage.

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Easy-to-Remove Garbage Bags

Getting a full garbage bag out of the can is always difficult because of the vacuum seal that forms between the bag and the can. Solve the problem by drilling holes in the side of the garbage can near the bottom. Air is allowed into the bottom of the can when you pull out the bag, and the trash bag slides out with ease.

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Duct Tape Drink Holder

Keep a roll of duct tape on the center floorboard in your vehicle. It works great as a cup holder and it’s just sticky enough to stay put. When you need the roll, you’ll know right where to find it.