Avoid Ugly Hammer Marks
Nails are easier to drive if you take a full swing. But the downside is that if you miss the nailhead, you'll leave a deep 'elephant track' in the decking. Use a 1/4-in. plywood cushion to protect the deck boards in case you miss with a hammer. It allows you to concentrate on nailing without worrying about denting the deck boards. Simply start the nail. Then slip a small square of 1/4-in. plywood over the nail and swing away. Remove the plywood for the last blow.
Circle Gets the Square
Clamping With a Caulk Gun
Customized Chuck Key
If you've ever scraped your fingers when tightening a drill chuck, you'll love this tip. First measure the diameter and length of the chuck key's handle and drill a matching hole in the end of a 4-in. x 3/4-in.-diameter wood dowel. Then hold the handle in a vise and tap the dowel onto the chuck with a hammer.
The advantages? Besides no longer scraping your fingers on the gears, you'll have increased leverage with less effort and a much more comfortable grip when tightening the chuck.
Trim dowel plugs flush on fine furniture projects without scarring the adjacent surface. Apply a couple of layers of masking tape or a single layer of duct tape to a hacksaw blade with an untaped section between for sawing. While you're sawing, the tape elevates the blade a smidgen so it can't scratch the surrounding wood. After sawing, lightly sand the dowel to even it with the wood.
Last-Ditch Nail Pulling
If you're trying to pull a nail and the head breaks off, try gripping the nail tightly with a locking pliers, then pull against the pliers.
When you need to extend the reach of your cordless screwdriver, just pull the shaft out of a four-way screwdriver and clamp it in the chuck.
Longer-Lasting Utility Blades
Mini Drywall Saw
A coarse jigsaw blade mounted in a scrap of wood makes a handy little drywall saw. It's easy to carry and is good for cutting around electrical boxes and other tight spots.
No-Dent Finish Nailing
PVC Sanding Files
Stick sandpaper to cutoff pieces of PVC water pipe with spray-on adhesive and you'll be able to sand concave curves to perfection. PVC pipe is labeled by inside diameter; here's an index for the outside diameter of useful pipe sizes.
- 1/2-in. i.d. = 7/8-in. o.d.
- 3/4-in. i.d. = 1-in. o.d.
- 1-in. i.d. = 1-1/4-in. o.d.
- 1-1/4-in. i.d. = 1-5/8-in. o.d.
- 1-1/2-in. i.d. = 1-7/8-in. o.d.
To apply sandpaper to the pipe, spray both the paper and the pipe with a generous layer of adhesive. Let both surfaces dry several minutes before joining them. Use two grits on each pipe—80-grit for sculpting a precise radius, and 100- or 120-grit for finish sanding. When the sandpaper's worn out, just pull it off, spray fresh adhesive on a new strip and go back to having fun.
Six-Point vs. 12-Point Sockets
If mechanics swear by six-point sockets, why are there 12-point sockets? A 12-point socket is fine for most lightweight repairs, but heavy wrenching calls for a six-point socket. A six-point socket is much less likely to slip off a stubborn fastener or round over the corners. Here's why: (1) Six-point sockets have thicker walls, so they're less likely to flex. (2) A six-point socket is designed to contact the head of a fastener well away from the corners so contact is made on the thickest part of the socket and the flattest part of the fastener. This dramatically reduces the likelihood of slippage and rounding over the corners. And (3), the edges of a socket are angled back a few degrees to allow the socket to slide easily over a fastener. The angle is less on a six-point socket than on its 12-point counterpart, again providing more contact area inside the socket.
One last point. Most high-quality sockets are chrome plated to prevent rusting and make cleanup easy. However, after years of use, the chrome finish can flake off. Don't use a socket if the chrome is peeling. The chrome will be as sharp as a razor blade. Any reputable tool company will replace a tool that has peeling chrome.
Socket Wrench Screwdriver
Sometimes there's just no way to make even a short screwdriver work in a tight place. Use a Phillips head screwdriver bit with a ratchet wrench. The hex shaft of most bits fits into the 1/4-in. socket.
Tabletop Chisel Storage
Start with a 4-in.-wide board. Using your table saw, cut stopped slots to match the width and depth of each chisel (plus some wiggle room). Screw or glue on another board to create the pockets, then run the lower edge of the doubled board through a table saw with the blade set at 15 degrees. Now cut three triangular legs with 75-degree bottom corners and glue them to the pocket board. If you like, drill a few holes through the boards for pegboard hooks so the holder is easy to store on the wall.
Take a Nip Now and Then
Keep a pair of 'nippers' in your pouch whenever you're doing trim carpentry. When you pull trim from the wall, use them for pulling the nails through the back of the trim.
Wrench for Rounded Bolt Heads
Loosen bolts with worn, rounded heads with a pipe wrench! The pipe wrench jaws dig in and grab the head so you can remove the bolt.