For cottage DIY builds, there are a lot of instances where you won’t have the proper tools—or a bro to pitch in with an extra pair of hands. These are the hacks that will rescue your project when you’re in a pinch.
Use pulleys and levers to move heavy objects
“Figure out basic physics, because pulleys and levers are your friend,” Kevin of Brojects says. “Andrew and I once moved a shipping container with a lever!” If you’re working alone and need to lift something super heavy, jig up a pulley and lever system to move it easily—and you’re also less likely to throw out your back!
Use a nail as a drill bit for drilling small pilot holes
If you need to drill a pilot hole for nails but don’t have the right size bit, turn that same nail into a drill bit. Take the nail, clip the head and insert into your drill, and you’re ready to go.
Use table salt to hold glue in place
If you need to clamp together several pieces of wood slathered in glue, it can be a nightmare trying to keep each piece lined up while also wrestling with the clamps. This is where table salt comes to the rescue. After you’ve spread the glue out on your wooden surfaces, sprinkle a tiny amount of salt on it. It won’t affect the adhesion, but it’ll prevent the wood from moving when you go to clamp it.
Space tiles perfectly with pennies
Finally, a use for the penny! Next time you’re laying tiles, use pennies to ensure the spaces throughout are perfectly equal. When setting the tile, place a penny between each corner. Once you’re finished, the pennies are quick and easy to remove.
Use a walnut for wood touch-ups
If the edges of a finished project are starting to look a bit beaten and scuffed up, take a walnut and rub it along the wooden surface for a simple restoration fix.
Make your own two-in-one nail holder hammer
Glue a heavy-duty magnet to the bottom of your hammer and hold extra nails there while you’re working away.
Soak hard paintbrushes in vinegar
Ideally, you should wash your paintbrushes in warm soap water right after you’re finished using them. But if you’ve skipped a thorough cleaning and your brushes are hard and caked in old paint, use vinegar to revive them. Take some white distilled vinegar and bring it to a boil in a saucepan over the stove. After, pour the hot vinegar into an old container. Soak your brush for at least 20 minutes and then wash with warm soapy water. To keep your bristles straight, use a clip to prevent the bristles from touching the bottom of the jar.
Make your own wooden clamps
Running out of clamps can set a project back hours. Next time you’re running low, build your own. Cut out two C-shaped pieces of wood just a bit wider than the project you’re clamping. Lay the C-shaped clamps over whatever needs to be clamped, and make it snug by wedging in shims using a hammer.
Use a clothespin to steady a nail
This hack is for the beginner DIYers out there. Use a clothespin to hold onto a nail and keep it in place while hammering. Think of the clothespin as training wheels. Once you get the hang of it (meaning you’re no longer banging up your fingers in the process), you can abandon the clothespin.
Keep your calculator sawdust-free with a plastic bag
In intricate woodworking, nothing is certain but calculators and sawdust. Unfortunately, these two certainties do not mix. To keep your calculator safe from the elements, store it in a ziplock plastic bag while you’re using it, which also makes it easy to store afterwards on a pegboard.
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