22 Genius Hand Tool Hacks You Need to Know
Hand tools are great, but they’re even better when you use them creatively for things they’re not designed to do.
Avoid Ugly Hammer Marks
Circle Gets the Square
Which Way to Tighten Wood Clamps?
“Hand screw wood clamps are some of the most useful and versatile tools in my shop. But I always forget which way to rotate them to make them larger or smaller, and more than half the time I make the wrong choice. Now, I draw an up or down arrow on the clamp ends along with the words “larger” and “smaller”. No more guessing!” – Kenneth “Doc” Gregie
Caulk Gun Clamp
Customized Chuck Key
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. Plus: Never lose your chuck key again!
Saw Dust Filter Fan
My workshop doesn’t have air conditioning, and it gets pretty hot while I’m working. I used to blow a fan directly at myself, but it sucked in dust from around the shop and blew it at me. I had a few extra furnace filters lying around, so I tried attaching one to the back of the fan using hook-and-loop fasteners. This made a huge difference! Don’t use a super-high-performance filter, as it could cause the fan to have to work too hard to pull air through, resulting in an overheated motor. — Larry Brannock
Putty Knife Hack
Drywall screws are very useful. Not only can you use them for their main purpose, but they’re ideal for attaching metal to wood, and many people use them instead of wood screws. However, if you try to remove a drywall screw that has missed the stud, it’ll just spin and it won’t come out. So, to get the screw to back out, stick the edge of a putty knife under the screw’s head and apply some outward pressure as you back out the screw. Viola! It will come right out with not hassle.
Last-Ditch Nail Pulling
Adding a Key-Holed Ruler to Your Bench
You can mount a removable key-holed metal ruler on the front edge of your workbench, for both easy measuring on the workbench and for easy access for measuring and marking projects elsewhere. Simply drill keyholes (a larger hole with an overlapping smaller hole above it) in two locations along the ruler. After drilling the keyholes we sanded them smooth to get rid of the potentially dangerous sharp edges. Next, drill appropriately sized screws (ones that will fit into the smaller sized keyhole) to the front of the workbench and use the keyholes to mount the ruler to the bench with screws.
Also, it is important to note that we placed our screws in a location in which the ruler would lay flush with the edge of the workbench. This makes it extremely easy to use the ruler for quick project measurements because of its convenient location.
Simple Curve Guides
Many woodworking projects require more than just straight line cuts to get the job done right. And instead of using complex math or a compass to figure out the curve for your project, use supplies you have laying around your workshop.
You can use anything from a paint can to a tube of caulk to use as your curve guides. All you have to do is find an object with a circular bottom that is around the size of the curve you’d like; then place it on your project as a curve guide. Need a proper place to store all of your workshop curve guides? Check out these 51 brilliant ways to organize your garage.
Longer-Lasting Utility Blades
Mini Drywall Saw
No-Dent Finish Nailing
PVC Sanding Files
- 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. Check out these other genius sanding tips.
Six-Point vs. 12-Point Sockets
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
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.