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53 Old Items Fantastically Fit for Repurposing

Old milk jugs and pool noodles are standard materials for repurposing, but check out what you can do with items like books and gutters.

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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.

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family handyman chain compassFamily Handyman

Chain compass

Project running you in circles? Trace perfect arcs or circles in an instant with a ballpoint pen, an awl or a nail, and a short length of plumber’s chain (sold at home centers). The pen pokes through the chain’s smaller links just enough to create an exact radius when you keep the chain taut while tracing. As a bonus, each link provides a 1/2-in. increase or decrease in radius for quick adjustments without measuring. It’s one of our brilliant repurposing ideas.

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Pool Noodle Wrist RestFamily Handyman

Pool noodle wrist rest

Make this easy pool noodle wrist rest for your desk. Mark the noodle where you want to make the cuts; then slice the noodle lengthwise at the marks using a utility knife. It may take a few passes with the knife to get all the way through to the center of the noodle. Pull the pieces apart, and place one piece flat-side-down in front of your keyboard. That’s it for one of the easiest repurposing ideas around! Here are some other household items you never knew were reusable.

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Trash-Can AmplifierFamily Handyman

Trash-can amplifier

Use a small trash can to not only protect your speaker from rain and other outdoor elements but also to amplify your tunes! Turn the trash can on its side and simply place the speaker inside.

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No More Rusty Garden ToolsFamily Handyman

No more rusty garden tools

When you change the oil in your lawn mower, here’s a great way to reuse some of it. Pour a quart or so into a 5-gallon bucket filled with sand. Now store your garden tools in it. This keeps them rust-free and ready for use. — Reader Gary Snell

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Save Your ContainersFamily Handyman

Save your containers

Save all your glass and plastic containers for your shop. Glass jars work well for liquids. Clean brushes in an old tin can. Brush on glue from small containers of all kinds. Sour cream/cottage cheese containers work for just about everything. Clear plastic containers are great for miscellaneous storage because you can see what’s in them. Just label everything with a permanent marker. Check out these household uses for vinegar you never knew about.

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DIY Dog FeederFamily Handyman

DIY dog feeder

Make a tough, self-filling dog feeder from a couple of 5-gal. buckets. With a saber saw, cut the bottom off one bucket to create a serving tray, and cut a food dispensing hole in the food storage bucket (as shown). Cut part of the lip off the bottom of the food storage bucket to flatten it, then use silicone to glue the two pieces together. NOTE: Don’t build this dog feeder unless your pooch can exercise some self-control.

 

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Paper Tube Saw GuardFamily Handyman

Paper tube saw guard

Here’s an inexpensive way to protect your fingers and the blade of your bow saw. Slip an empty gift wrap paper tube over the blade. Just slit the tube lengthwise and slide it on.

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String-Dispensing CD BinsFamily Handyman

String-dispensing CD bins

Here’s a great way to reuse empty CD bins. Drill a hole in the top of the bin for the string to slide through, then screw the lid under a shelf and snap on the string-loaded bin. Pull down and snip off the desired length and never worry that your ball of string will roll away across the floor dragging its tail behind it!

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Power Cord CoilersFamily Handyman

Power cord coilers

Got a shelf loaded with drills, saws, sanders, and routers but can’t untangle the cords to safely pull one off the shelf? Buy a pack of elastic ponytail holders and use them to keep the cords neatly coiled while the tools are stored. Snugly loop the ponytail holder around the cord so it stays on the cord while you’re using the tool.

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Light-Duty Extension Cord StorageFamily Handyman

Light-duty extension cord storage

To keep light-duty extension cords organized, slide them into toilet paper or paper towel tubes. Write the length of the cord on the tubes before you put them in a drawer or bin. You’ll be able to find the right cord easily with this extension cord storage hack, plus you’ve made good use of the tubes. Check out these extraordinary uses for the junk in your garage. 

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Double-Lid Cord ReelFamily Handyman

Double-lid cord reel

Make this handy cord reel using extra bucket lids. Cut a 5-in. length of 4×4 and then cut a groove in the side the same width as your cord. Fasten the lids to the 4×4 with 1/4 x 2-in. lag screws. Make handles from an old 1-1/8 in. diameter broom handle and drill a 1/2-in. hole through the center. Fasten the crank to the lid with bolts, nuts, and washers, and apply Loctite sealant to the end nut. Fasten the handle to the 4×4 through the lid with a 6-1/2 in. lag screw. Just insert your cord and reel it in.

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Wrench CaddyFamily Handyman

Wrench caddy

Organize your wrenches in your toolbox by stringing them onto a large, bright-colored carabiner (sold at camping and discount stores). It will keep your wrenches together and make them portable and easy to spot.

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Pull-Tab Picture Frame HookFamily Handyman

Pull-tab picture frame hook

If you’re hanging pictures and run out of those sawtooth hangers, just grab the nearest pop can. Bend the pull tab back and forth until it breaks off. Then screw it to your picture frame. Bend the free end out slightly and hang the picture. —Reader Carrie Tegeler

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An electric toothbrush on a blue backgroundWR.lili/Shutterstock

Scour off grime with an electric toothbrush

Now that discount and dollar stores carry cheap electric toothbrushes, you can add a modern twist to routine cleaning. Rapid vibration will quickly scrub out stubborn dirt, while the long handle can get to hard-to-reach places without all the elbow grease. Don’t miss these 7 other ways you’re probably cleaning your bathroom wrong.

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Lots of vibrant tennis ballsinnerfocus/Shutterstock

Tennis ball bottle opener

 

Slice a tennis ball in half using a utility knife. (Be sure to stabilize the ball in a vise or with clamps while cutting.) The rubbery inside of the ball is perfect for gripping stubborn twist-off bottle caps or sticky jar lids. This is one of $1 solutions you’ll wish you had sooner, including these 60 others.

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Milk Jug ScoopFamily Handyman

Milk jug scoop

Cut off the top of an empty gallon or half-gallon milk jug with sharp scissors. It helps to draw the cut line with a marker first. Clean up the cut to make sure there are no sharp or rough edges. Replace the jug cap and you have a handy (and pretty much free) scoop for pet food, potting soil, etc. Remove the cap and you can use the scoop as a funnel!

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Grass Seed BroadcasterFamily Handyman

Grass seed broadcaster

When it’s time to clean out the refrigerator, be sure to save those plastic berry containers for repurposing ideas. You can toss the mushy raspberries, but wash and dry the container—it’s perfect for spreading grass seed on your lawn!

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Paper Towel Roll Bag StorageFamily Handyman

Paper towel roll bag storage

There are many uses for plastic grocery bags in the workshop. You can use them to seal up brushes and rollers during a painting project, so you don’t have to wash so much stuff between coats. The point is, it’s worth keeping a handful of plastic grocery bags on hand in the workshop, and here’s a great tip for storing them: Stuff as many plastic grocery bags as possible into an empty paper towel roll. Then toss the roll in a drawer or cabinet. The cardboard tube keeps the bags contained, and it’s easy to pull one out at a time when you need it.

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Greenhouses from the Salad BarFamily Handyman

Greenhouses from the salad bar

Reuse a plastic clamshell container from the salad bar as a mini greenhouse for starting seeds in the spring. After washing the container, punch a few holes in the top. Fill the bottom with potting soil and plant your seeds. Close the lid and place the container in a sunny spot. It acts like a mini-greenhouse, allowing the sun to reach the plants while holding in moisture.

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Paint Stick to Clean Lint BuildupFamily Handyman

Paint stick to clean lint buildup

Once in awhile, it’s important to clean the area around your dryer’s lint trap, as the screen doesn’t always catch all of the debris. A paint stir stick with a clean rag wrapped around one end makes a great tool for this task. Make sure you also avoid these ways you are shortening the life of your washer/dryer.

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Hot Glue Gun Uses: Fix Wobbly Furniture with a PennyFamily Handyman

Hot glue gun uses: 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.

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High angle top view photo of woman hand open kitchen drawer by door handle, with different cutlery spoon, pizza knife, fork and stuffbrizmaker/Shutterstock

Use a pool noodle inside a drawer

 

Reader Roy Allison found a solution for keeping his silverware drawer organizer from moving around each time he opened or closed the drawer: a pool noodle! He cut the noodle to size so that it fits snuggly between the back of the organizer and the back of the drawer.

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An antique tin flour sifter. A white painted tin flour sifter decorated with tiny red apples. Old hand crank design.Guitar75/Shutterstock

Flour sifter flower pot

 

If you have an old flour sifter you no longer use, try turning into a planter. If you don’t have one, there’s a good chance you’ll find one at a thrift store or garage sale to use for repurposing ideas. Get the best deal at thrift stores with these shopping secrets.

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Oil-Bottle Hardware ToteFamily Handyman

Oil-bottle hardware tote

Here’s a fun little project to keep your screws, nails, nuts and electrical whatsits handy and neatly organized. To make one, you’ll need:

  • Six quart-size motor oil bottles (empty!)
  • One 9-in. x 7-3/4-in. floor made from 3/8-in. or 1/2-in. plywood
  • One 7-3/4-in. x 6-in. plywood handle
  • Two 3-1/2-in. x 9-in. plywood sides

With a utility knife or snips, fashion the oil bottles into bins with 15-degree angled sides starting 2-1/2 in. up from one side. (If your bottles have hash marks, the 12-oz. hash mark is great for the low end of the angle.)

Saw a handle slot in the vertical piece, and saw 15-degree angles on the sidepieces. Glue and nail the six-pack together. Add solid wood strips along the open sides to keep the bins from falling out and to make it easy to pull one out as needed.

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Pie Plate Storage PocketsFamily Handyman

Pie plate storage pockets

Screw cut-in-half pie tins and heavy-duty paper plates to a shop wall and you’ve got space-saving storage for the sanding discs, circular saw blades and abrasive discs that like to hide in a drawer. Be sure to tape the sharp edges on the cut pie plates to protect your fingers!

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Use Soft Socks to Clean BlindsFamily Handyman

Use soft socks to clean blinds

The next time you need to clean your window blinds, use a sock on your hand! Your hand makes a perfect tool for reaching all of the nooks and crannies on the blinds, and the sock picks up dust wonderfully.

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Onboard Glue SpreaderFamily Handyman

Onboard glue spreader

For years I used my finger to spread glue beads on the edges of boards. Then, in sweaty haste, I’d wipe my fingers on my pants and another pair of nice jeans would become ‘work-only’ attire. To make the job less messy, all you need is an old credit card (or new, your choice), a 3/4-in.two-hole EMT conduit strap (about 50? at a home center) and two 1/8-in.nuts and bolts. Crook the conduit strap in a vise to level the conduit strap wings with the bottle cap. This way the credit card stays flat when you bolt it on. Drill a couple of window holes in the middle of the credit card so you can monitor the size of the glue bead, then drill bolt holes at the end of the card, snap the conduit strap onto the bottle cap and bolt on the card. Practice applying glue on a scrap board and in a few minutes you’ll get it down (pun intended). Be sure to use fresh glue—the lightly bending card will spread it like butter.

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Safety Glasses InsuranceFamily Handyman

Safety glasses insurance

Protect safety glasses by storing them in an old sock. Hang the sock on the wall in your workshop, and they’ll remain scratch-free, dust-free and easy to find. If you don’t have a pegboard wall in your shop, it’s time to build one! In just two hours you can make a versatile pegboard wall with a handy storage bin beneath.

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top view of isolated wood pallet on the white background ultramansk/Shutterstock

Pallet wine rack

Here’s a simple woodworking project on how to build a wine rack — use some old pallet wood to make a wine rack. The rack would make a great addition to an outdoor patio area. Just make sure you’re storing your wine the right way.

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The old pages of the book are spread out and pasted overAlexey Wraith/Shutterstock

Wallpaper

 

Wallpaper is making a huge comeback in home design, as long as it’s unique and limited to an accent wall or two. There is no more unique statement than wallpapering with book pages. Once you figure out the basics of hanging wallpaper, you’ll have this unique feature wall complete in no time.

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A bunch of wooden window shutters pattern on grey wall. Restaurant cafe warehouse decor. Naked worn wooden and plain painted shutters. Hipster loft wallpaper.Nine_Tomorrows/Shutterstock

Window shutter

 

Next time you see old window shutters at the resale shop, pick one up. Screw on some small baskets and use it as a seasonal decoration or to store items such as garlic, onions, and potatoes in your pantry.

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stack of steel electric conduit pipes, black and white tone, selective focus, industry concept backgroundballykdy/Shutterstock

Fabric and electrical conduit divider

 

Here’s a clever way to use electrical conduit: Attach some fabric and you have a modern DIY room divider. For a how-to video of the process, visit here.

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Two simple milk boxes on color backgroundAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Cardboard carton

Instead of tossing that cardboard milk or orange juice carton in the recycling bin, cut off the top, wrap it with fabric and use it as a planter for herbs or flowers. It’s one of the items you didn’t know you could recycle or upcycle. For more repurposing ideas, visit Cut Out + Keep.

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Texture of old corroded spring of mattressJerry Lin/Shutterstock

Mattress spring flower wall

This clever DIYer used old mattress springs for a flower wall. The springs are hung on the side of the house near the patio.

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Pink flower pot hanging isolation on white backgroundSupachita Krerkkaiwan/Shutterstock

Stuffed animal storage

All those stuffed animals can be difficult to keep corralled. Try cleaning up an old plant hanger, painting it and hanging it in your child’s room to keep the animals off the floor.

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wooden cart with flowers pansies insidemuratcankaragoz/Shutterstock

Old cart

Some of the oldest and most hard-working pieces can be transformed into works of art with repurposing ideas. This old cart is now used as a flower planter.

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snapvision/Shutterstock

Teapot

This old teapot has a new life as a planter. You can get a similar look with an old coffee carafe.

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Partition to Create an Entryway SpaceFamily Handyman

Furniture-quality divider

If you have woodworking skills, you can build this hinged room divider. You will need a table saw for furniture-quality results along with some wallpaper or fabric to match your room’s decor. Here are even more budget-friendly ways to decorate your house.

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Nejron Photo/Shutterstock

Shutter divider

If you come across some old window shutters at a resale shop or garage sale, consider using them as a DIY room divider. Just paint or stain and add some hinges. You can get a similar look with salvaged closet doors, too.

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 Barn Door series. Modern sliding door.BondRocketImages/Shutterstock

Barn door divider

Depending on the room, a barn door can work as a room divider. In just a few days, you can create a sliding barn door to help break up a room for the fraction of the cost you’d pay to purchase one and have it installed.

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O.C Ritz/Shutterstock

Pallet wall

Here’s yet another project that uses an old wooden pallet. You’ll need some landscape fabric to attach to the backside of the pallet, then fill with soil and plant your flowers. Prop the planted pallet up against a wall or fence.

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A succulent hangs in the light of a window in wine bottle planterKaty Hill/Shutterstock

Wine bottle

If you’re up for cutting glass, try using empty wine bottles as planters. You’ll need to cut either the side or the top, depending on the look you’re going for.

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ChaniDAP/Shutterstock

Gutter garden

Gutters can also be used for creative outdoor water features. Or, like here, gutters have been mounted on a wall for a hydroponic garden.

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Amalia Zilio/Shutterstock

Coffee cup

Try using an old coffee mug or teacup to grow some small plants. Try an oversized mug to hold flowers on your dining table. Your houseplants will last longer if you know these hacks for healthy houseplants.

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use gutters for tool organizationFamily Handyman

Supplies storage

Cut your cheap downspouts into short sections, about 6 inches long, then stack and bind these sections so you have several rows of openings. You can store these downspout storage slots in a work bag for quick access, or mount them on a table. It’s a great DIY project for hobbyists with supplies that are tough to store and organize.

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Vadim Georgiev/Shutterstock

Jewelry box

A hollowed-out book is an age-old space to hide valuables, but it also looks great on display as a jewelry box. Get creative and add wooden feet or several stacked boxes for optimum effect. These boxes would also look great in an organized closet space which would make it feel like a luxurious dressing room, even in a small footprint. There are a few other closet organizing mistakes you can easily remedy with some DIY tricks.

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Supakorn Sakdiyapan/Shutterstock

Plastic jugs

Those plastic milk jugs can be cut and used as planters. Try hanging them from a fence with wire coat hangers, as shown here.

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Family Handyman

Hidden storage

All you need to create this amazing hidden storage box is glue, a sharp knife, and a simple box frame. This is one home security hack that looks as good as it works.

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Duck dolls made of rubber in mesh bag.On a blue backgroundvitahima/Shutterstock

Alternative to plastic bags: mesh produce bag

One of your easiest and most eco-friendly options for toy storage is already in your refrigerator. Empty your mesh produce bags and toss in your child’s bath or beach toys. Attach a plastic hook and hang the bag of toys on the shower wall within easy reach. And if you need more room than what you can hold in a 5-lb bag, buy a reusable mesh produce bag and still have an eco-friendly bag alternative to traditional toy storage.

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New Life for Broken Shop VacuumsFamily Handyman

New life for broken shop vacuums

Next time an old shop vacuum dies, don’t trash the whole thing—just toss the lid and motor, and then use the canister as a roll-around trash can. Just nudge it with your toe to move it wherever you need it.

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Organize Paperwork with a Pot Lid HolderFamily Handyman

Organize paperwork with a pot lid holder

Borrow from the kitchen! Use a kitchen pot lid stand to organize your desktop’s most current paperwork. A simple wooden dowel style like this can easily be painted to match your décor. No desk space? These home organizing makeovers will inspire some creative solutions.

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Repurpose a DresserFamily Handyman

Repurpose a dresser

Repurpose an old dresser as a printing station. Keep wire baskets near for printer discards and store ink and paper supplies in the drawers for easy access. Drawers also make for a sturdy storage solution for extra notebooks, binders, and books. Getting rid of your file cabinets? Use them in the shop! Next, find out the extraordinary uses for some more ordinary things you have in your house. 

Originally Published on The Family Handyman