Home Safety Tips
19 Helpful Tips for Doing DIY Work Alone
If you have to work on DIY projects by yourself, you can increase productivity and limit aggravation with a crew of clamps, jigs, ropes and duct tape! There’s a lot you can do solo if you use these tips and tricks.
Use Clamps to Support Pipes when Soldering
When you’re soldering pipes, tighten a clamp across two ﬂoor joists for temporary support. Use the same trick to support drain-pipes, ducting or framing members while you work on them. Use the same trick to support drain-pipes, ducting or framing members while you work on them.
Solo Fastener Driving Tip
How to Snap a Chalk Line By Yourself
A Helper Up High
Hands-Free Light Hack
Use Balance and Grip to Haul Heavy Plywood
Use Sturdy Scaffolding
The scaffolding doesn’t have to be anything fancy. When you have a job less than 10 ft. from the ground, set a couple of solid, crack-free, 2×12 boards (avoid large knots) over a pair of sturdy sawhorses for a platform you can move around on. Just make sure your setup is on even ground to keep the horses from collapsing, and avoid ‘walking the plank’ by remembering that there are no safety rails. Keep plank ends close to sawhorses or they’ll flip up when you step on the ends, like they do in slapstick movies (only it won’t be nearly as funny in real life).
For higher jobs, like painting second-floor eaves or replacing windows or siding, go to the rental store and examine your scaffolding options. You can rent long, lightweight aluminum planks with various styles of jacks to support them and the same platform ‘section style’ scaffolding you see the pros use on big construction sites. Tell the scaffolding supplier about the job you’re planning to do and how high you’ll be working to get help choosing the best scaffold. Most scaffolding can be carried in a pickup, but rental stores will deliver too. You’ll forgive the cost when you see how your productivity increases.
Extend Your Saw Table
Using a Lever
Lever posts out of the ground by wrapping a chain around the base of the post and slipping a long plank through the chain. Pry against a block resting on the ground to keep the lever from digging into the soil. Sometimes you’ll have to excavate around the tops of stubborn concrete-embedded posts to remove some of the dirt trapping the top of the concrete.
Use a Cleat to Hang a Cabinet
Screw On a Cleat to Hold a Board
A small plywood cleat screwed to the top of a joist will hold it up while you nail the opposite end. Plus, it will hold the tops flush while you nail on the joist hanger. Use scraps of 3/4-in. plywood rather than boards for small cleats. Plywood won’t split when you drive screws into it.
The Helper You Wear: A Tool Belt
Put tools that you grab with your dominant hand on that side of the belt, and fasteners on the other side. Also, have a fixed spot for your most-used tools so you can find them instantly.
Don’t Carry or Drag—Slide
Use an Appliance Dolly
Appliance dollies like the one shown have straps to secure the load and rollers on the back to assist in going up and down stairs. The strap mechanism can be confusing, though, so ask the rental salesperson to show you how it works.
Load the appliance onto the dolly by pushing against the top to tip it away as you slide the lip of the dolly underneath. Then wrap the straps around the appliance and tighten them. Be careful, though. Properly tightened straps exert a lot of pressure, so make sure they’re underneath and away from handles or other parts that could be damaged.
Now brace the bottom with your foot and pull back on the handles of the dolly to tilt the appliance off the ground and roll it away. It’s easiest to roll backward over bumps or rough surfaces. Get help if you have to go up or down stairs. To set the appliance down again, brace the bottom with your foot and hang from the top of the handles. Let your weight do the work as you gently lower the appliance to the floor.
Bar Clamps for Framing Jobs
These clamps come in handy for all sorts of framing tasks too. For example, you can clamp a board to the bottom of deck joists as shown to support the front joist while you nail it on. Keep a set of clamps handy when you work and you may not even miss having a helper.
Ironing Board Back Saver
Tip It Into a Wheelbarrow
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 a home center. Pull the full bag into your trailer, transport the leaves and store the bag for the next season.
Use Pivot Points and Balance with Long Ladders
Anchor the feet of extension ladders against the base of the building and ‘walk’ the ladder up to raise it. The solid wall keeps the feet from kicking out as the ladder’s raised. To lower ladders, move the feet back against the building and reverse the process. Extend the ladder while holding it vertical, and roll the top of the ladder to walk it sideways.