Tricks of the trade that can save you time and money

Kya Longchamps reveals 20 ingenious DIY hacks and techniques to simplify matters when you need to do work around the house.

Always save some wall paint in a small secured jar for future touch-ups. Eccentric colours can be hard to match.

1. If you’re trying to pour oil into your car/mower/whatever and find yourself without a funnel — use a large screwdriver. Hold the metal shaft of the tool down into the opening of the oil reservoir and pour the oil down the steel — it will cling.

2. Use or even make an upright, counter-mounted kitchen roll holder to keep your tapes (painter’s tape, Gorilla tape and any large reels) in order in the garage. This is a simple first DIY project with two pieces of wood, some wood glue and a single screw. Feeling brave? Make it wall hung.

3. Screw-drivers have two handy features you might not know about. Firstly, you can put a wrench to size on the top of the metal shaft for extra muscle. Secondly, try putting a round wrench around the handle for more torque.

4. If you want to use a caulk gun, but don’t have one handy for a quick dab on something — put the handle of your hammer into the back end of the silicone package and push the product out. Not accurate, but it does work.

5. To prise out nails from wood with your hammer fork — place the hammerhead on your large screw-driver handle to raise it up before seizing the nail head. Far easier.

6. Use 2” PVC plumbing pipes and connectors to create useful overhead storage rafters in your garage. They are light but tough enough for off-cuts of pipe and planks. Check Pinterest for inspiration.

7. Use a large, rectangular wide tooth hair comb to hold nails in place to save you bashing your fingers. Keep the comb flat to the wall, teeth facing up. A wooden clothes peg is useful to hold light nails, again saving you a wallop.

8. If you use masking tape and can’t get it up after use (painters tape is plastic, not paper) use a hair dryer on a warm setting to ease it up without damaging the surface underneath.

9. Avoid running your paintbrush on the edge of your paint tin — it gets extremely mucky. Clip out a section of a wire clothes hanger and stretch it over the top of the open tin, bending and then securing the ends down the exterior side of the can with Gorilla tape. Wipe away.

10. To soften hardened paint brushes (not the mortally wounded ones) add some fabric softener to a jar of water and give them a good soak. Rinse thoroughly and air dry. Keep the bale (metal housing) of the brush out of liquids. To tidy up older rollers — trim their edges down on the ends for a cleaner finish.

11. Closing the paint lid on a large metal can? Get a small sheet of plastic wrap and cover the top first. This will stop any drips sealing the can shut and makes it easier to open next time.

12. Don’t throw out old Styrofoam packing sheets from Christmas. Put them into your garage drawers or into a shelf of your toolbox and press small screws down into it to hold them in place. Just pluck them out as you need them.

13. Sanding fine furniture that you have painted or sanding between coats? Try a crushed paper bag over your hand like a mitten and give it a nice delicate final rub down.

14. Use a little nail polish (and I mean a little) to paint the tops of keys you use only every now and then and can never pick out. Create a key box and put every stray key into it. I use the back of my hot press door for my lockable key box.

15. When painting windows or trying to mask something small — try lip balm or petroleum jelly. The paint won’t adhere to the area and you can wipe it off when finished.

16. Always save some wall paint in a small secured jar for future touch-ups. Eccentric colours can be hard to match.

17. The toothpaste trick. If you have a hole left by an old nail or screw, put some plain white toothpaste in there and leave it for at least two hours. Ensure there’s no shrinkage (reapply if needed), sand lightly and paint away.

18. Drilling into a ceiling or upward into materials — cut a small paper cup down short, and make a small ‘X’ in the base. Push it over the drill bit base first to act as a small bucket to catch dust and debris. On a wall, put a Post-it note under the hole position and fold it into a small net to also catch dust as you drill.

19. If you don’t have a diamond tip or glass drill bit (and even if you do), put a small piece of masking tape over the spot before drilling into the tile to prevent the tile cracking. You could also use the rubber seal from an old roofing screw to cover the chuck (generally the part of the driver that hits the tile and breaks it).

20. Pegboards are a huge space saver for garage storage, but you can go further if there’s still no wall room. Create a book of boards of over 32 sq ft with turning ‘pages’ taking up just 6.7 sq ft.

Instructions here: makezine.com/2010/07/19/how-to pegbard-leaves-for-tool-orga/


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