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49 Life Hacks You’ll Wish You Knew Sooner

These life hacks will make your daily to-dos (plus a few random projects) so much easier!

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HH handy hints spaghetti noodle lighter candleFamily Handyman

Pasta Lighter

We're sure you're stocking up on sweet smelling candles to make your home extra cozy for the colder months. But, if your candles are burning too low to reach the wick, there's no reason to go without your favorite scent. Instead of burning your fingers, light a piece of uncooked spaghetti. It'll reach into those deep candles and burn long enough to light the candles on grandpa's birthday cake!

Everyone enjoys saving money, especially when it comes to improving your home. So check out these 35 amazingly cheap handy hints using everyday items.

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HH lemon juice remove highlighterFamily Handyman

Remove Highlighter Stains

Ever wish you could remove highlighter marks from a book? Lemon juice fades highlighter enough to make it virtually undetectable. Cut a lemon in half and get some juice on a cotton swab. Run the swab over the highlighted text and watch the color fade.

Lemon juice from a container also seems to do the trick. Though not quite as well on the pieces we tested, and the older the mark, the more stubborn it is to remove. Plus, check out these secret cleaning tips from the pros.

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HH Puppy PVC slow feeder dogFamily Handyman

Puppy Slow Feeder

My puppy was eating his food too fast, resulting in him vomiting it back up. Instead of buying a slow-feed bowl, I drilled holes into a 12 in. length of 2 in. PVC pipe and capped the ends. I fill the tube with puppy food, and he has to roll it around to get the food to fall out of the holes. My puppy gets all the food he needs without the mess that comes from eating too fast. Be sure the holes are large enough for the food to come out! – Charlie May

Check out these clever and unusual ideas about how to make your pet happier, healthier and more comfortable, using items you’ll find around the house.

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HH Handy Hint color coded key nail polishFamily Handyman

Identify Your Keys at a Glance

"It seems the older I get, the more keys I carry around. Between the car, house, shed and garage, I have a whole pocket full of keys. To make it easier to quickly find my most used keys, I paint both sides of the key head with brightly colored nail polish. I use a different color for each key. The nail polish is extremely durable and you'll be surprised how much longer it lasts than spray paint." —Joseph Grayson Check out these other 14 Secret Tool Tips for DIYers from the Pros.

Check Out These Brilliant Handy Hints:

Add these hacks to your to-do list and you'll be done in no time!

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HH Pool noodle hose extenderFamily Handyman

Pool Noodle Water Hose

If you need to fill up a bucket that won’t fit under your sink’s faucet, bust out a pool noodle. Set the bucket on the floor, slip the pool noodle over the faucet and run it down to the bucket. Check out these pool noodle hacks that will improve your life.

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HH silica packets gardening seeds freshFamily Handyman

Keep Seeds Fresh

If you don’t use up all of your seed packets, store them in an airtight container with silica packets to keep them fresh for next year. The silica packets prevent the seeds from germinating or getting moldy. Plus, check out these 10 seriously useful gardening tips every beginner needs to know.

Buy silica packets on Amazon now.

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HH Handy Hint fog free mirror car waxFamily Handyman

Fog-Free Mirrors

Prevent your bathroom mirror from fogging up after a hot shower with car wax. Apply a small amount of car wax to the mirror, let it dry, then buff with a soft, dry cloth. Expert tips that add up to big savings on your next bath remodel.

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HH disinfect legos in dishwasherFamily Handyman

Easy Way to Disinfect Legos

Children’s toys are a breeding ground for germs. A dishwasher makes quick work of disinfecting toys that are washable, like Legos. To quickly clean Legos:

  1. Drop the Legos in a laundry bag to keep them contained.
  2. Run your dishwasher as usual.
  3. But, remove the Legos before the drying cycle, letting them air dry completely on a towel.

This method also works well for other treasures like seashells, dish brushes, rags and sponges.

Never lose your keys again with this clever Lego keychain project.

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easy sticker removal HHFamily Handyman

Renew Your Furniture in Minutes

My son plastered all of the furniture in his room with stickers from skate shops, arenas and gumball machines. Once he moved out, I wanted to use his furniture in the new guest room, without the stickers. I peeled off all the stickers using a putty knife in combination with hair dryer, to soften the adhesive. Some are harder to remove than others, but I had them all off in a couple hours. – Steve Winter

Check out this other trick for removing sticker residue.

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HH painters tape shelf hanging templateFamily Handyman

Tape Template

Take the guesswork out of hanging picture frames, shelves and other items with “keyhole” hangers. To begin:

  1. Stick a piece of masking tape over the keyholes, and then trace over the keyholes with a pencil, making a template.
  2. Making sure it’s level, stick the template on the wall where you want the shelf.
  3. Drill your anchor holes or screws into the template and remove it.

Even if you know your way around a tape measure, there’s sure to be some new tricks you haven’t seen in this list of 25 tips and tricks to take your measurement mastery skills to the next level.

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HH Handy hint ice cubes wrinkle remover dryerFamily Handyman

Get Wrinkles Out of Your Laundry with Zero Effort

Ditch the time-consuming iron or handheld steamer to get wrinkles out of a shirt or slacks. Throw a few ice cubes or a wet washcloth in the dryer with your wrinkled clothes. As the ice melts and the water turns to steam, it will remove the wrinkles. This trick isn’t as effective with heavier clothing but is a miracle for lighter fabrics. The best part is that you don’t have to set the dryer for longer than 10 minutes for it to work. These 20 small laundry room ideas make the most of what little space you have in your laundry or utility room.

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plant in a pot landscaping design seasonal mums HH Handy HintFamily Handyman

Plant-in-a-Pot Landscaping Design

Ever wish you could reorganize your garden after seeing how the mature plants look? Here's a clever way to do it. You'll need a bunch of pots of the same size, so they'll nest in each other. Put your plants in doubled pots, and then bury them at ground level. Whenever you want a change, lift out the top pot and put in a different one. This method is also really slick for bringing plants indoors over the winter. This method is great for quickly changing out seasonal plants, and allows for easy experimentation with color and placement of plants and flowers.

Want to add more color to your landscape this season? Check out these 49 Colorful Plants to Brighten Up Your Landscape.

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HH lint log fire starter

Dryer Lint Fire Starter

To properly build a fire, you need to have tinder (easy-lighting material), kindling (finger-size sticks) and fuel (logs). We all have a readily available supply of tinder: dryer lint! To make fire starters, I stuff empty toilet paper tubes with dryer lint. My dryer lint "logs" light quickly and easily burn long enough to light up the kindling. And I don't have to resort to lighter fluid!

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HH zip-tie phone stand propped up

Zip-Tie Phone Stand

When referencing projects plans or a photo for inspiration while working on a DIY project, most of us use our phones to display images or instructional videos. The only problem with this method is that our phones don't prop themselves up, making it difficult to see at the images while working. You can make a smartphone stand out of just about anything these days, but it doesn't get much simpler than looping zip ties around your phone (1 on each side). All you have to do is tighten the zip ties until they are snug to the phone with the zip-tie heads facing down and near the edge of your phone. Now you can watch video instructions or look at project drawings without having to hold it in your hands the whole time.

Plus, the next time you are charging your phone in the car you better think twice! Learn why you should stop charging your smartphone in your car.

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lip balm cash stash

Secret Cash Stash

"Sometimes I don’t want to carry my wallet around. At the beach, for example, when I have to leave my belongings unattended while I go for a swim. But I still need cash on hand for food, drinks, etc. So I turned an empty tube of lip balm into a secret cash stash. You could do the same with an empty stick of sunscreen, too. A long nail works great for digging out any remaining bits of lip balm, and a cotton swab wipes away any waxy residue.

Not only is the tube small enough to fit in my pocket, but it’ll also fool any potential thieves. I mean, who would steal someone's used lip balm?" — Jenny Stanley

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HH DIY hose drip watererFamily Handyman

DIY Drip Waterer

Here’s an easy way to turn any hose into a drip-watering hose. Drill 1/8 in. holes every 2 in. and screw a cap the end. Weave the hose around your plants and turn on the spigot. You’ll have to do some testing to figure out the right setting. To make watering even easier, I added a programmable faucet timer to the hose. — Matt Boley

Check out these cheapskate handy hints for the outdoors.

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FH19MAY_594_08_030-1200 plywood sheet carrier HHFamily Handyman

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

Now that you can carry plywood across your shop, make some incredible reindeer out of plywood by following the article here.

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double your resealable bags HHFamily Handyman

How to Double Your Resealable Bags

This might be the coolest way to turn sandwich-size bags into snack-size bags! Here's how to do it:

Heat up an old butter knife with a lighter and slice the bag in half. The hot knife cauterizes the edges of the two new bags. The cauterized edges are as strong as the factory sealed edges! – Julia Trenton

Try these 12 secret kitchen hiding spots for your next weekend project!

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Handy Hint HH flamingo blow up pool toy shop vac nozzleFamily Handyman

No Air Pump? No Problem! Use a Shop Vacuum

If you don't have an air compressor to inflate your air mattresses or pool toys, you can use your shop vacuum instead. Just pop the top off of a plastic squeeze bottle and fit the top to your vacuum's hose. You may have to use duct tape. Once the top is secured to the hose, attach the hose to your vacuum's exhaust port. It'll blow up your inflatables in no time. To deflate, attach the hose to the vacuum port and suck the air out.

These 11 crazy cool beach inflatables will take your beach game to a whole new level.

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Picture Frame Bumpers 2 HH

Instant Picture Frame Bumpers

Stop wall frames from slipping out of place and scratching the wall paint by putting small dots of hot glue on the back corners of the frame. The hot glue not only prevents movement, but it also holds the picture away from the wall to prevent scratches and nicks.

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Painted Carpet HHFamily Handyman

Clean Up Paint in Carpet

I used to think dropping a loaded paintbrush on the carpet meant replacing the carpet, until a former foreman told me this little tip. Pour some denatured alcohol onto a rag and scrub away the paint. Use a rag that is as close in color to the carpet, as the alcohol can transfer some of the rag’s color to the carpet. – Tom Gerdowsky

Need some denatured alcohol? Buy it from Amazon here

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HH message board picture frameFamily 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.

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HH easy mulch spreading handy hint bucketsFamily Handyman

Easy Mulch Spreading

Getting mulch up close to flowers and bushes is easier if the mulch is in a small container. So I place buckets and pails in my wheelbarrow and fill them up with mulch. It doesn’t matter much if the mulch misses the bucket and lands in the wheelbarrow. Once you're done dumping the buckets, dump what's left in the wheelbarrow in an open area and spread it out. — Eric Swartz

Now go check out these Low-Maintenance Landscaping Ideas to make your yard look amazing for less hassle!

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HH carpet padding to make plush rugFamily Handyman

Make Any Rug Extra Comfortable

Want to make any rug feel extra plush and luxurious? Add a layer of carpet padding underneath your rug—it's thicker and cheaper than a typical rug pad. The next time you wash that pile of dishes in the sink, your feet will thank you.

Check out these 12 clever kitchen hacks you’ve never thought of before.

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Lampshade Lint RollerFamily Handyman

Lampshade Lint Roller

Fabric lampshades are magnets for dust and pet hair. You can't just throw them in the washing machine, so what do you do? I've found that a lint roller works really well. Be careful though, as lampshades are fragile and can even become brittle. A torn lampshade is worse than a dirty one.

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adding pvc to table legs to make a taller table HH

Taller Table Hack

I have a typical 6-ft. folding table that I use to layout certain projects. But the height of the table is meant for someone sitting in a chair. Constantly bending over when using the table was starting to hurt my back, so I came up with a solution. I used a couple of 2-ft. lengths of 1-1/4-in. PVC pipe found at my local home center, and cut four 11-in. stilts for my table.

I slipped the pipes onto the legs and it raised the table about 6 in., bringing my work surface to a more comfortable height! The bend in the table legs at about 5 in. from the ground holds the pipes securely in place, so my table is still as sturdy as ever. The stilts can be removed if I ever need to lower the height of the table to use it while sitting in a chair. — Gary Inlow

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HH ice remove gum stuck in carpetFamily Handyman

Remove Gum from Carpet

When gum freezes, it gets brittle and easily breaks apart. So, if you have gum stuck in your carpet, freeze it to remove it quickly and neatly.

  1. Place a sandwich bag filled with ice cubes on top of the gum and wait about a half hour.
  2. When the gum is frozen, break it apart and pull it out of the carpet. No trace left behind.

Plus, we’ve rounded up 14 common annoying sights and come up with the best DIY fixes to make them right with little effort and minimal cost.

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Wood plank HH Handy Hint Lawn edgingFamily Handyman

Simple Lawn Edging

To edge your lawn, garden, or flowerbed, lay down a 2x6. While holding the board with your foot, drive a flat spade along the board's edge. Move the board as needed to create a clean, straight line.

Check out these 23 Yard Tool Hacks That’ll Make Your Life Easier. These simple and smart updates to everyday yard tools will make your outdoor chores a heck of a lot easier this season.

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HH DIY wood filler sawdustFamily Handyman

DIY Wood Filler

"To make a versatile wood filler for free, just grab a paper plate and combine Elmer's or any other wood glue with sawdust. Like other wood fillers, you can stain or finish it, but the color will likely be a bit different than the surrounding wood. But, it’s sandable, paintable and long-lasting. I haven't bought any wood filler in over 50 years.”  — Dan Gola

Check out 32 more handy hints for the workshop.

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Quick Cold Drinks 2 HH

Quick Cold Drinks

Does wrapping a wet paper towel around a warm canned or bottled beverage and putting it in the freezer cool it faster than if there were no paper towel around it? Some folks theorize that the can is analogous to your body, and the wet paper towel is analogous to sweat. Since it's well known that evaporation of sweat pulls heat away from your body, causing a cooling effect, the same should happen with a canned beverage in the freezer, right? There are lots of "expert" opinions about this online supporting both sides of the argument. I've had many opportunities to experiment, and to me, it seems to make a difference. Try it out for yourself! — Edward Kral. Plus: Did you know a tennis ball works as a bottle opener? See how it works here.

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HH Handy Hint Sponges stay plants stay hydratedFamily Handyman

Healthy Plant Hydration

Water settling at the bottom of pots can lead to root rot. To combat this problem, cut up old sponges and put them in the bottom of the pot. The sponges retain moisture and create necessary air space. They also help prevent water from flushing out the bottom. The sponge acts as a water reserve and keeps soil moist longer.

Love to garden but short on time? Here are some tips that will help you plant, water and weed more efficiently so you have more time to stop and smell your roses.

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HH clean sneakers with a toothbrush and toothpaste whiteFamily Handyman

Your Shoes Will Look New

All you need is an old toothbrush and a little toothpaste to get your old sneakers looking like new! Non-gel white toothpaste works great for cleaning white-soled sneakers (colored toothpaste may stain rather than clean sneakers). Apply toothpaste to an old toothbrush and then work the paste into the dirty spots. Leave the toothpaste on the shoes for about ten minutes, and then wipe it off with a damp towel. Repeat the process if necessary.

Toothpaste will keep your smile in great shape but it's also pretty handy in cleaning up around the house. Check out these 50 things you never knew you could do with toothpaste.

Important: The ingredients in toothpaste may vary from brand to brand, so make sure to try this method on a small unnoticeable spot on your sneakers before applying it to the rest of the shoe.

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tractor rope HH

Lawn Mower Grass Chute Saver

To avoid a lot of string trimmer work, I like to mow as close as possible to trees and buildings. But the grass chute on my riding mower prevents it. So I drilled a hole in the chute and tied a rope from the chute to a handle on the side of the tractor. Now I can lift up the chute without missing a beat, and cut way down on string trimmer work. — Travis Larson

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HH durable sandpaper duct tape

How to Make Durable Sandpaper

"I do a lot of finish-sanding freehand, without a sandpaper block, so I can smooth edges and get into nooks and crannies. But the finer grits are usually bonded to thinner paper and, at least for me, the paper is too thin and ends up tearing long before the grit wears out. So I apply duct tape to the back of the sandpaper. The sandpaper is still flexible enough to sand a tight radius and it's far more durable. You can use this super-strong sandpaper like a shoeshine rag." — Chuck Merchant

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HH phone charger heat shrink tubing pen spring hack

Use This Simple Hack to Save Your Phone Charger

To make your otherwise fragile phone charger last for more than a couple of weeks, try out this simple hack! Start by removing the spring from a pen. Next, stretch one end of the spring out a bit so it can fit around the charger cable. You might need to use pliers for this. Now, wind the spring around the cable until it is completely on the charger cable. Next, take appropriately sized heat shrink tubing and slip it over the phone charger and spring. Use a lighter to warm the heat shrink tubing until it conforms around the charger and spring. This simple hack will keep the cord from breaking any further or from even breaking in the first place!

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HH blue painters tape dustpan broken glass

Effectively and Safely Sweep Up Glass

Everyone who has ever swept the floor with a standard broom and dustpan knows about that annoying line of dust. It's the line that just won't disappear no matter how many times you try and sweep it up. To get rid of this annoying line, simply tape the front of the dustpan to the floor with blue painters tape, so no residue will be left on the floor. It will seal and cover the gap between the floor and your pan.

This handy hint also works great for sweeping up more menacing items like glass. The dustpan and tape combo will ensure that all of those little glass shards will be in the pan and not on the floor.

Check out these 14 handy hints for cleaning your home. You don’t need expensive appliances or specially designed products to keep your home neat and tidy.

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HH Ice Pack Frozen Sponge

Make Your Own Ice Pack

Ice packs are a great way to keep your lunch cool, but they're a bit expensive if you're in the habit of losing them. This DIY ice pack hack is reusable, so it is good for the environment as well.

First, purchase an inexpensive pack of sponges or just find some old ones around the house. Grab a big bowl of water and let the sponges completely soak up as much water as they possibly can. After soaking the sponges, put each sponge in a small sandwich bag with a zip close. These bags serve two purposes. First, as the ice melts, the bag contains the water so it doesn’t make a mess in your lunch bag. Second, keeping the water contained allows the melted sponge to reabsorb the water so it is ready to refreeze for the next day. Now, freeze the wet and bagged sponges overnight. In the morning, all you need to do is toss the ice pack into your lunch container.

Check out these 12 clever kitchen hacks you’ve never thought of before.

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HH DIY car mat from carpet scrapsFamily Handyman

DIY Car Mats

One simple way to keep your car clean is to cut scraps of old carpet to fit on the floor as mats.  We found our carpet scraps for less than $2 at Home Depot. And when the DIY carpet scraps inevitably get all dirty with mushy winter snow or summer sand, you could either give them a wash or toss them out and make more.

A word of caution, do not put these DIY car mats on the driver's side of the car unless grippers are attached on the bottom side to ensure that the mat does not slip forward while driving.

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ROUND_8 HH Wood dent iron steam wet cloth

Get Dents Out of Wood

Dents in wood surfaces can be annoying. But fret not, they can be fixed! Simply soak a washcloth in water and ring it out a bit so it's not sopping wet. Put the damp washcloth on the affected area. The water will wick through the wood, and that's fine. Now, with your iron on its highest setting, place it on the damp washcloth over the affected area, and make small movements back and forth and in circles. Press down firmly and continue until your washcloth is dry. It won't take long to evaporate. At this point, the wood fibers are absorbing the water and should expand back to where they were originally. Continue this process and repeat by adding more water until the dents rise up to be flush with the rest of the material.

Here are more instant fixes for nagging problems around the house.

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HH Staple Remover key ring

Staple Remover Hack

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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water bottle cap to support tension rod HH

Support a Tension Rod with Water Bottle Caps

"My wife sews kids clothes and uses a curtain tension rod to hang them in a closet. She explained to me one day that the pole was frequently slipping and falling down. So, I searched and found an object that could be screwed into the wall and would fit around the ends of the tension rod: water bottle caps.

I used drywall screws to secure two water bottle caps into studs in the closet walls, and then I mounted the tension rod inside the bottle caps. The lip on each cap provides just enough support for the tension rod, so it doesn't fall down anymore." — Rodney Sheets

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coating snow shovel with car wax HHFamily Handyman

Coat Your Snow Shovel with Car Wax

Shoveling snow can be frustrating enough, but when heavy snow sticks or freezes in clumps on the shovel, it can make the job even more difficult! You can avoid this issue by first coating your shovel with car wax before heading out to clear your driveway and walking paths.

This tip works best with metal shovels: Follow the application instructions on the car wax package. Generally, car wax is applied in a thin layer using a damp cloth, allowed to dry, and then buffed off with a dry cloth. This leaves the shovel clean and lubricated, so the snow and ice won’t stick!

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HH Handy Hint Vacuum cleaner nylons find lost itemsFamily Handyman

Find Your Lost Items

Everyone knows how annoying it is when you can’t seem to find a dropped pill or the back of an earring. So how do you find these items quickly and easily? Use your vacuum. Here's the trick; before you turn the vacuum on, cut off the end of a nylon and secure it on the end of your vacuum hose with a rubber band. Check out these ingenious hacks and practical uses for rubber bands that go far beyond their intended use.

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dry erase board permanent marker handy hint

Erase Permanent Marker on a Dry Erase Board

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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penny to fix wobbly furniture HH

Fix Wobbly Furniture with a Penny

Need to shim a wobbly bench or table, but don’t have time to run to the home center for furniture feet? No worries, just reach for your pocket change!

You can use a coin to shim wobbly furniture in a pinch. Use hot glue to attach the coin to the problem area, adding additional coins as needed. Coins work well as a temporary fix because they come in a variety of thicknesses and cost less than a dollar!

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writing notes on washing machine HH

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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magnetized drill HH

Magnetized Drill Hack

I like to keep screws very close at hand when I’m working on a project. How close? I stick them right to my drill. Some drills are equipped with a magnetized portion for this purpose, but if yours isn’t, here’s an easy fix. Hot glue a rare earth magnet to the back of your drill and slap a few screws on it. For small tasks, I don’t even need a tool belt. – Lucas Kuck

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HH sharpie sharpies rubbing alcohol

Bring Dead Sharpies Back to Life

When it comes to workshop problems, dried-out Sharpies aren’t major. But they are annoying when you can't find another one to mark your measurements or project notes.

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 sharpening scissor blades on coffee mug

Use a Ceramic Mug as a 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. And if you find yourself in need of sharpening a utility knife, pocket blade or scissors and don’t have access to a sharpening stone, you can simply flip over a ceramic coffee mug and use the outer edge of the bottom, the non-glazed part, as an emergency sharpening stone.

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.