Safe Cord Storage
To store elastic cords safely and neatly, pull out the spine of an old three-ring binder. Punch out the rivets and screw the spine to the garage wall. The rings are the perfect spot to hang cords without dangerous tension.
Easy-on-the-hands bucket handles
Levels tend to slip when you're trying to mark a line on a wall. Make it an anti-skid level by sliding several rubber bands (or one fat one) over each end.
Rubber Band Clamps
You can buy special woodworking clamps to hold hardwood edging in place until the glue sets, but they're expensive and you won't use them often. Instead of buying specialty clamps, you can modify some of your spring clamps instead. Grab a few rubber bands and presto?instant edge clamps. These clever clamp storage tips help keep your workshop organized.
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.
Paint Brush Drip Stopper
When you wipe your paint brush against the inside of the can, paint fills the rim and eventually runs down the side and onto the floor. Solve the problem by wiping the paint against a heavy rubber band wrapped around the center of the can. Excess paint will drip back into the can without making a mess or gumming up the lid. Check out this video for another paint-mess-control tip.
Want your next painting project to look like it was done by a pro? This tutorial shows you the techniques you need to know.
-Decie C. McKnight
Make a small-parts clamp by wrapping a rubber band around the jaws of 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.
No more rusty garden tools
On-the-level tool bucket
Gutters need some TLC? Here's how you can fix them yourself.
Better bucket storage
Here are 17 more nifty ways to store tools.
Easy-Mount Mini Bins
Electrical junction boxes can hold a lot more than wiring. You can nail or screw them to just about anything anywhere. In the shop, they're great for those tools that can't hang on hooks—tape measures, markers, chisels, etc. Plastic boxes are inexpensive and come in various sizes and shapes.
Mini Tools From Concrete Nails
Need a nail punch or skinny chisel or tiny screwdriver RIGHT NOW? It's only as far away as a box of 3-in. concrete nails. These nails are made extra hard for pounding through stone, concrete and thick layers of stucco, and they're easy to grind into the mini tool you need. Be sure to hold the nail in a locking pliers for safe grinding, and dip it in water frequently to preserve its temper. Wear eye protection.
Panpipe Tool Storage
While this tool storage device may look like a variation on the Pan flute of Greek mythology, it's actually a great place to store tools that easily get lost—like chisels, files, pencils, scroll saw blades and hobby knives. For the fatter tools, use PVC cement to join short pieces of 1-1/4-in. PVC pipe side to side into a panpipe design, then add pieces of 1/2-in.pipe along the front of the flute for skinnier tools. Build a simple case around the pipes to create a floor and a back for hanging on a shop wall.
5-gallon bucket pvc pipe cutter
For 33 ingenious ways to use PVC pipe, check out this collection of tips.
No-Rattle Ceiling Fan
If the screws that hold the light globe to your ceiling fan tend to work loose and then hum or rattle, slip a wide rubber band around the neck of the globe where the screws grip it. The rubber band prevents the screws from loosening, dampens any noise and protects the globe from overzealous screw tighteners.
Here's a nifty way to store chisels, files, carving knives and spade bits. Sew 1- to 1-1/2-in.-wide parallel pockets in a carpenter's apron (about $3 at a home center). Leave a third of the apron's width free of pockets so you can roll up the tools in a neat bundle. The apron strings tie the whole thing together, and your cutting tools stay sharp, dry and organized between jobs.
Handy bench and tool bucket
For more clever gardening shortcuts, check out this collection of tips.
5-gallon dog feeder
NOTE: Don't build this dog feeder unless your pooch can exercise some self-control.
Check out our collection of clever and unusual ways to make your pet happier, healthier and more comfortable, using things you'll find around the house.
- Justin Moujoodi
Paper Tube Saw Guard
Here's an inexpensive way to protect your fingers and the blade of your bow saw. Slip an empty gift wrap paper tube over the blade. Just slit the tube lengthwise and slide it on.
String Pipe Cutter
Amaze your friends and mystify your neighbors by cutting PVC pipe with a string. It's a great trick to know if you have to cut pipe that's buried in a wall or some other tight spot. We used a mason's line to saw through 2-in. PVC pipe in less than a minute.
Need to splice PVC pipe? Here's how!
Storage Pockets for Skinny Things
Saw off short pieces of 1-1/2-, 2- or 3-in. PVC plumbing pipe with 45-degree angles on one end. Screw them to a board to hold paint brushes, pencils, stir sticks and just about any other narrow paraphernalia in your shop. Mount them by drilling a 1/4-in. hole in the angled end, and then drive a 1-5/8-in. drywall screw through the hole into the board.
Foam Ball Hand Protector
To protect your hand when you're holding a masonry or cold chisel, cut a slit through the center of a soft foam ball and slip it over the shaft of the chisel. Then hammer away.
Make a Mattress Sling
Trying to wrestle a heavy, floppy mattress anywhere is tough. Many mattresses have handles, but they're not intended for carrying. They're actually made to help you position the mattress, so they're not very strong.
Here's an easier way to carry a mattress: Make a simple rope sling that will give you and your helper a lot more control. Thread the rope through the mattress handles. Slip a 5-in. piece of 1-in. PVC pipe over the rope ends and then loop and tie each end to create a comfortable sling grip. Flip the mattress over so the sling is on the bottom and you're on your way.
String-Dispensing CD Bins
Here's a great way to reuse empty CD bins. Drill a hole in the top of the bin for the string to slide through, then screw the lid under a shelf and snap on the string-loaded bin. Pull down and snip off the desired length and never worry that your ball of string will roll away across the floor dragging its tail behind it!
PVC Knife Holders
Carrying kitchen knives safely for picnics and camping trips is challenging. So one reader made knife containers out of PVC pipe and caps. He glued the cap on one end and marked the unglued cap with an 'X.' That way he always knows which end to open.
Power Cord Coilers
Got a shelf loaded with drills, saws, sanders and routers but can't untangle the cords to safely pull one off the shelf? Buy a pack of elastic ponytail holders and use them to keep the cords neatly coiled while the tools are stored. Snugly loop the ponytail holder around the cord so it stays on the cord while you're using the tool.
Light-Duty Extension Cord Storage
To keep light-duty extension cords organized, slide them into toilet paper or paper towel tubes. Write the length of the cord on the tubes before you put them in a drawer or bin. You'll be able to find the right cord easily, plus you've made good use of the tubes.
Chain Saw Blade Guard
Protect a chain saw blade with 3/4-in. foam pipe insulation. Wrap the insulation around the blade and strap it tight with a couple of rubber bands. Chain saw need sharpening? Here's how.
New Uses for Old Glove Fingers
Don't throw out your old work gloves. Cut the fingers off and you'll find lots of uses for them. Use them to protect the tips of chisels when you need to carry them. They're also good for softening the grip of pliers and many other applications.
Cardboard concrete-forming tubes are inexpensive ($7 at any home center) and provide a great place to store baseball bats, long-handled tools and rolls of just about anything. Rest the tubes on a piece of 2x4 to keep them high and dry. Secure each tube to a garage stud with a plumbing strap.
Easier mulch unloading
Fast, Inexpensive Table
Aunt Edna just called to tell you she's coming for the holidays (and bringing some nice people she met hanging around the bus station). Trouble is, you don't have enough table space. Don't worry; just run to the home center and get a 10-ft. length of 3-in. PVC pipe, four 3-in. toilet flanges and a hollow-core door. Hollow-core 'slabs' are 80 in. long and available from 28 to 36 in. wide. Cut the PVC to make legs and assemble the table as shown. And then check out our tips for finishing a table top. It's not a masterpiece, but under a tablecloth it looks fine. Plus it's light-weight and easy to disassemble and store until next year. Just remember that hollow-core doors aren't very strong; don't sit or stand on the table.
Accessorize Your Mower
If you keep a few tools handy while you mow, you can deal with stray weeds as you notice them—no need to hunt for them later. Short sections of PVC pipe taped to the mower's handle will hold tools and other necessities.
PVC Curling Iron Holsters
Hate the messy look of curling irons lying on the vanity or the toilet tank? Here's a tip for you. Use hook-and-loop tape to attach 5-in. lengths of 2-in.- diameter PVC pipe to the vanity door to hold the curling irons. Do the same thing with 3-in. pieces of 1-1/2-in.-diameter pipe to hold the cords. Just measure your curling irons to see how long your “holsters” need to be. Let your curling irons cool before you stow them away.
Mini Hardware Holders
Store your itty-bitty screws, nails and driver bits in an easily accessible spot on your toolbox. Tack or screw a looped strip of 3/4-in. braided elastic (about $1.50 at a fabric store) to a convenient place and slide in loaded and labeled film canisters. They'll ride along snugly and within easy reach for all your jobs.
Keep the Tape Rolling
Slip a rubber band over the 'ears' of your packing tape dispenser as shown to keep the end of the tape from falling through the slot and then back onto the roll. The tape won't stick to the rubber, so you'll always be ready to roll.
Bucket-lid cord reel
If your extension or power tool cord accidentally gets cut, here is the safe way to repair it.
No-Latch (or Hands-Free) Door Trick
Need to go in and out of the same door a bunch of times while carrying stuff? Tough to do when the door keeps latching shut. To keep that from happening, take a rubber band and loop it around one doorknob or handle. Then, twist the rubber band once and then loop it around the other knob. The rubber band holds the latch down, preventing the door from latching shut. Now if the door closes, you can push it back open with your body even if your hands are full. If you have a door latch that's not working, here's an easy fix.
Organize your wrenches in your toolbox by stringing them onto a large, bright colored carabiner (sold at camping and discount stores). It will keep your wrenches together and make them portable and easy to spot.
Closet Glove Rack
If you don't have radiators, finding a good spot to dry wet hats and mittens can be tough. Tossing them into a plastic bin gets them out of the way, but they never dry and it's no fun putting on damp mittens in the morning. This simple back-of-the-door glove and cap rack allows wet things to dry and keeps easily misplaced items organized. (Check out these other inside-cabinet door storage ideas, too!) Just string clothespins on aluminum wire (it won't rust) and stretch it between screw eyes on the back of a closet door. This also works great out in the garage for drying garden and work gloves.
Better tree watering
Learn about sucessfully growning healthy shade trees in your yard here.
Vacuum Attachment Holder
Take one of your shop vacuum attachments to the home center and find a PVC tee that fits. Drill a hole in the tee large enough to accept a screwdriver, place a small plywood spacer behind it and screw it to the wall.
5-gallon bucket tool kit
Fishing Rod Organizer
We got sick and tired of our fishing rods getting tangled, so we came up with this easy fishing rod organizer. All you need is a length of 3-in.-diameter PVC pipe and a foam swimming pool noodle.
Drill 1-in. holes spaced every 4 in. in the PVC pipe. Use a utility knife to cut slits in the foam noodle, spacing them 4 in. apart. Line up the pool noodle on the wall so that at least two of the slits sit over studs. Pull those slits apart, slide in a fender washer, and screw the noodle to the wall with 2-in. screws. Then screw the PVC pipe to the wall beneath it at a comfortable height and insert your fishing rods. Look Ma, no more tangles!
Battery-Powered Kite Retriever
Does it take forever to wind in your high-flying kite? Cut the tips off a plastic kite string spool and screw in a piece of 3/8-in. dowel, leaving a few inches of dowel sticking out. Tighten the end of the dowel in a 3/8-in. cordless drill. That's it—run the drill to haul in that kite.
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.'
You'd be amazed how easy it is to move heavy, awkward objects with three pieces of PVC pipe. I've moved playhouses, yard sheds, empty hot tubs and rocks weighing well over a ton with this trick. Use 4-in.-diameter 'Schedule 40' PVC, which is available from home centers. Here's how to do it:
- Lift the front edge of the stone with a pry bar and slip two pipes underneath. Place one near the front and one about midway so the stone rests on the pipes.
- Position the third pipe a foot or two in front of the stone.
- Roll the stone forward onto the third pipe until the rear pipe comes free. Then move the rear pipe to the front and repeat.
This technique works best on relatively flat ground. On mild slopes, you'll need a helper to shift pipes while you stabilize the load. Don't use this method on steeper slopes.
Instant Tool Holder
Store chisels, files, large drill bits, screwdrivers and other long tools so they're both visible and close at hand. Simply cut off the top from a clear 2-liter plastic soft drink bottle, leaving a flap for hanging. Use smaller bottles for smaller tools.
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 2x4. It won't make the repair any easier, but it's definitely easier on your back.