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38 Clever Handy Hints Under $5

These genius ideas will save you time and trouble during home improvement projects. And each costs less than $5 to do!

What to Do When Your Glue Caps Keep Getting StuckFamily Handyman

What to do when your glue caps keep getting stuck

Caps on certain adhesives/glues, like rubber cement and super glue, have a habit of getting stuck or glued on, no matter how hard you try and keep them clean. Learn this simple hack to solve this annoying issue.
Coat Your Snow Shovel with Car WaxFamily Handyman

Coat your snow shovel with car wax

Make shoveling snow easier by first coating your metal shovel with car wax. Follow the application instructions on the car wax package. Then the snow and ice will slide right off of the shovel after each scoop.
Peel-and-Stick Vinyl Work SurfaceFamily Handyman

Peel-and-stick vinyl work surface

Make almost any work surface in your shop much easier to clean by adding some peel-and-stick vinyl tiles. The smooth, liquid-resistant tiles are available at most home centers, and they’re easy to apply because the adhesive is ready to go.
Taller Table HackFamily Handyman

Taller table hack

If you’re like The Family Handyman reader Gary Inlow and use a standard banquet table for your workbench, you’ll love this hint! Gary created stilts for his table using 1-1/4-in. PVC pipe, raising the surface of his workbench to a more comfortable height.
DIY Car MatsFamily Handyman

DIY car mats

Here’s an easy automotive hack: Buy carpet squares from Home Depot (they’re always under $2) and use them as car mats in your back seats. Another option is to use carpet scraps to make these DIY car mats. Check out the top 10 cleaning tips for the inside of your car.
Tag Your Tools: Not Pretty but Effective!Family Handyman

Tag your tools (not pretty, but effective)

Want to keep your tools from walking off the jobsite? Make them identifiable. That’s what Senior Editor Travis Larson did with a little spray paint. “Yep, my tools are ugly,” he says, “and that’s exactly why they go home with me every night.”
How to Make an Emergency CandleFamily Handyman

How to make an emergency candle

Every home usually has a stick of butter and extra toilet paper lying around. Coincidentally, you can make an emergency candle using just those two materials. Find out how to make an emergency candle.
DIY Ice Pack HackFamily Handyman

DIY ice pack hack

To make your own DIY ice pack, all you need to do is take a standard kitchen sponge, soak it in water, put it inside a ziploc bag, and freeze it. Freeze the sponge overnight and the next morning, you will have an ice pack. The handy thing is that when the ice starts to melt, the sponge soaks up the water so it doesn’t leak everywhere. Don’t miss these 11 other projects you can do all by yourself.
Extend the Life of Your Phone ChargerFamily Handyman

Extend the life of 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!
Rain-X in Snowthrower ChuteFamily Handyman

Rain-X in snowthrower chute

Keep your snowthrower at peak performance by spraying Rain-X inside the chute as part of your tune-up routine. That’s what reader John Gossard does! The Rain-X helps to prevent snow and ice from clogging up the chute, so you can move more snow faster.
The Miracle of a WalnutFamily Handyman

The miracle of a walnut

Furniture gets beat up over time, but you don’t have to live with the unsightly scratches. In fact, you can remove years of damage with a simple snack food: walnuts. Don’t miss these other inexpensive tricks to erase the wear and tear on your home.
How to Make Tool Organizers with GuttersFamily Handyman

How to make tool organizers with gutters

Make inexpensive compartments for your tool bag using PVC gutter downspouts. Carefully cut the downspouts into pieces that will fit vertically inside the bag and glue them together. Then organize your tools inside the compartments.
Pipe Insulation Car HackFamily Handyman

Pipe insulation car hack

Reader James Goldstein came up with a genius solution for preventing items such as keys or cell phones from falling between the seats and the console in a vehicle, which can be hard to retrieve and even dangerous if it happens while driving. He wedged pieces of foam pipe insulation in the gaps.

Scrap Wood Computer ShelfFamily Handyman

Scrap wood computer shelf

Use some scrap wood from your workshop to create a simple computer shelf for your desk. We built this one using a 1 ft. x 2 ft. piece of plywood and two 12-in. pieces of 1×3 board. We used a brad nailer to assemble the shelf and left it unfinished for a modern look.
Magnets in the Medicine CabinetFamily Handyman

Magnets in the medicine cabinet

Reader David Farrand has a great solution for organizing small metal items such as tweezers, nail clippers and more in the bathroom: Hang them on magnets inside a cabinet. If your cabinet does not have a metal surface, attach the magnets with hot glue—one magnet for each metal tool.
Ladder Hack: Magnet Extra HandFamily Handyman

Ladder hack: Magnet extra hand

Attach a round base magnet to the top of your ladder for an extra hand that can hold nuts, bolts, screws, etc., for you while you work. Round base magnets have a premade hole in the center, so all you need to do is drill a hole in the top of your ladder and secure the magnet with a bolt and nut.
Use Coins for Toilet ShimsFamily Handyman

Use coins for toilet shims

Did you know that coins can be used to shim a toilet? Just slip coins under a toilet to level it; then add caulk along the floor to hide the coin shims.
How to Revive Dead SharpiesFamily Handyman

How to revive dead sharpies

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. Learn how to bring your permanent marker back to life, because there’s still some ink in there!
Cutting PVC With StringFamily Handyman

Cutting PVC with string

If I need to cut a piece of PVC that’s impossible to reach with a saw, I cut a small notch into the pipe with a utility knife and cut the pipe by pulling a string back and forth in the notch. It’s not as fast or accurate as a saw—this 2-in. dia. pipe took about 5 minutes to cut through—but it’s a good trick in a tight spot.
Make Your Reusable Grocery Bags SturdierFamily Handyman

Make your reusable grocery bags sturdier

Have you ever had a heavy bag a groceries that your reusable grocery bag just can’t handle without ripping? This is how you can make a cheap, sturdy reusable bag.
Pipe Insulation for Baby-ProofingFamily Handyman

Pipe insulation for baby-proofing

Use foam pipe insulation to baby-proof your home. Cut the tube to length and slip it onto edges and corners that could be dangerous to a small child. The pressure of the curved foam will keep it in place for an easy-to-remove baby-proofing solution. Or, use the adhesive strip to hold the insulation in place for a more permanent safety fix. These are the 12 home improvement projects you should never DIY.
PVC Razor OrganizerFamily Handyman

PVC razor organizer

Make this simple razor organizer by cutting 1-in. PVC pipe into lengths that are just larger than your razors. Stick the lengths together with hot glue. You could also color code or write names on each piece of pipe so your family members know which is their razor.
Chap Stick for the ToolboxFamily Handyman

Chapstick for the toolbox

If you enjoy working with hardwoods, you know how important it is to lubricate screws. It’ll make driving the fasteners easier and reduces the amount of heat produced. But what if you don’t have a bar of soap or a pile of beeswax nearby? Reach for your tube of ChapStick! The lip balm does a fine job of lubricating screws—and it fits in your pocket.
Tarp Cement MixerFamily Handyman

Tarp cement mixer

No need to rent a cement mixer; you can whip up a large batch of concrete with a heavy-duty tarp and a helper. Just pour the concrete mix in the center of the tarp, make a well, and add the recommended amount of water. Then, you and a friend each lift two corners of the tarp, churning the ingredients until the concrete is the perfect consistency. Pour it directly from the tarp into the form.
Bobby Pin Nail HolderFamily Handyman

Bobby pin nail holder

There’s no need to risk hammering a finger when working with tiny nails or in tight quarters. A common bobby pin makes a great nail holder—and keeps your fingers at a safe distance! Once the nail is started, remove the bobby pin and continue hammering away. Here are 16 genius hand tool hacks you need to know.
Seal Outdoor Furniture FeetFamily Handyman

Seal outdoor furniture feet

Keep wood outdoor furniture kicking for as long as possible by protecting the surfaces that come in contact with the ground—especially end-grain pieces. Mix up a batch of epoxy and spread it evenly along the feet of, in this case, a wood bench. Allow the epoxy to dry completely, forming a weather-resistant seal, before placing the bench outdoors. These are the 30 products DIYers should never pass up at Costco.
Remove Hard-Water Buildup with a LemonFamily Handyman

Remove hard-water buildup with a lemon

Remove hard-water buildup on your faucet with this simple, natural solution: Place half of a fresh lemon on the end of the faucet, wrap a small plastic bag around the lemon, and secure it to the faucet with a rubber band. After a few hours, remove the lemon and wipe the faucet clean.
Brown Paper Bag Finishing TrickFamily Handyman

Brown paper bag finishing trick

You can always make the finish smooth by rubbing with fine sandpaper and rubbing compounds, but this is a lot of work. And there’s almost always a little dust that settles onto the last coat of finish before it dries, even when you spray fast-drying lacquer. Unless you’re aiming for the ultimate in smoothness, rubbing the surface with a folded brown paper bag is usually sufficient.
Fix Wobbly Furniture with a PennyFamily Handyman

Fix wobbly furniture with a penny

You can fix a wobbly bench or table with your pocket change. Add a drop of hot glue to a coin and attach it to the problem area. The coin will act like a shim, leveling out the furniture piece.
Write Notes on the WasherFamily Handyman

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. Find out the truth behind these 15 home improvement myths.

Coffee Filters for DustingFamily Handyman

Coffee filters for dusting

The next time you clean your computer monitor or TV screen, use a coffee filter. The thin, cloth-like paper catches a lot of dust and can cover a large area. You can use a coffee filter for dusting other household accessories, too.
Make a Smartphone StandFamily Handyman

Make a smartphone 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. Check out how to make a phone stand with a couple of zip-ties.
A Clever Way to Get Rid of Glue Squeeze-OutFamily Handyman

A clever way to get rid of glue squeeze-out

When glue squeezes out on an inside corner like in a drawer or the inside any woodworking project, using a chisel has the potential to cause more harm than good. This is because the sharp blade can easily mark-up and scratch the adjacent surface. The solution is simple: a drinking straw.
Clean Upholstery with Baking SodaFamily Handyman

Clean upholstery with baking soda

Did you know that regular ol’ baking soda can help to remove odors from a couch or upholstered chair? Just sprinkle a generous amount onto the fabric, wait about 20 minutes, and then vacuum it up. The baking soda helps to soak up odors and even break up some stains in the fabric.
Use a Rubber Band to Grip Stripped ScrewsFamily Handyman

Use a rubber band to grip stripped screws

We’ve all stripped a couple of screws in our day. And it normally isn’t a big setback—until you need to unscrew it, that is. So the next time you’re in this situation, try a rubber band for a screw grip.
Easy-Find Dado BladesFamily Handyman

Easy-find dado blades

Dado blades have a very specific way that they need to be installed on a table saw. A lot of them will have a letter that indicates how they should be installed printed on them, but it can wear off after use. Write the letters large on the blades to keep this from happening and make your dado blades much easier to use. Here are 13 home improvement projects that pay for themselves.

File Folders Kitchen Organization HackFamily Handyman

File folders kitchen organization hack

File folders can be used for more than just organizing papers and magazines in your office. They can also be used for organization in your kitchen. We filled file folders up with the clutter that normally barricades the cabinet under the kitchen sink. Place all of your kitchen cleaning supplies into file folders, putting the most frequently used items towards the front. This kitchen organization hack is so easy and satisfying! Plus, check out these 100 other uncommon uses for common household items.

How to Use Toothpicks as DowelsFamily Handyman

How to use toothpicks as dowels

Round toothpicks work great for joining boards together. When each board is cut and ready to put together, drill pilot holes (the same diameter as the toothpick) in two spots on each board. It is crucial that the pilot holes are in the exact same spot on each board, so it is smart to use a square when measuring. Next, apply glue to the toothpick and tap it into the hole. When the glue sets, cut the excess toothpick so it will fit into the other board with glue. Now, glue the boards together and clamp to dry. You’ll have a nearly invisible fastening job! Next, check out these 40 home repairs anyone can do.
The Family Handyman
Originally Published on The Family Handyman

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