Handy Person Tips

1. Rub petroleum jelly on the hinges and door knobs before you start to paint a door. If you get paint on them, they will wipe off easy.
2. To keep white paint from yellowing, add 10 drops of black paint to each quart of white.
3. When painting ceilings, cut a child’s rubber ball in half and put your paint brush in one of the halves to catch the drips.
4. An old pair of swimming goggles will protect your eyes from paint splatters and drips when painting ceilings.
5. When painting, protect your hands and face with moisturizer. Cleanup will be easier and the moisturizer will prevent paint from seeping into the pores.
6. Before starting to paint with enamel paint, lightly coat your hands and underneath your fingernails with any name brand hand cleaner. After the painting is finished, your hands will be easy to clean.
7. Line your paint tray with aluminum foil. When its time to clean up, just roll up the foil and throw away.
8. To stop paint from dripping, punch a few holes in the rim of the paint can. When the brush is wiped against the edge, the paint flows back into the can. The lid covers the holes so the paint won’t dry out.
9. To remove lumps from paint: Cut a piece of screen to fit the inside of the paint can. Set it on top of the paint and let it float down to the bottom of the can. It will take all the lumps with it, trapping them at the bottom of the can.
10. When painting trim around windows, doorways etc. try using stiff paper to cover the area you don’t want painted. (An old phone book cover works well.) Slide paper along as you paint. It’s much faster and more economical than using masking tape. Works well with either a roller or brush.
11. When painting a room, dip a small card into the paint so that you have the exact color with you and can match accessories in stores.
12. When painting inside corners, trim the paint brush bristles to a V to save strokes and spread paint more evenly.
13. Before pouring paint from a can, cover the rim with masking tape. After pouring, remove the tape — the rim will be clean and the cover will fit tightly.
14. When you poke a paint brush into corners or allow it to rest on the bottom of the paint can, the bristles curl and stray. To straighten natural bristles (not synthetics), try wrapping the brush in a couple of thicknesses of damp cloth and press gently with an iron. The steam and cloth binding do the job. Only light pressure is needed. Let the bristles cool before you unwrap the brush.
15. When painting old woodwork, fill in the holes or cracks with a mixture of flour and some of the paint you are using. It hardens like cement and matches perfectly.
16. When painting stairs, paint every other step first. When these are dry, paint the rest.
17. To avoid cleaning paint brushes and rollers if you intend to use the same color later, or if you do not have time to clean immediately, place the brushes and rollers in a plastic bag, tie shut and place in the freezer. They will keep for several days without drying up.
18. Protect hands from paint solvent by putting the brush and solvent into a strong plastic bag. With hands outside the bag, work the solvent into the brush through the plastic.
19. After cleaning your paint brush, a few drops of oil worked into the bristles will leave the brush soft and ready to use.
20. To clean paint rollers, fill an empty one-quart milk carton with solvent, put the roller inside and crimp the ends shut. Give the carton a few shakes, then let sit for a couple of hours.
21. Simmer hardened paint brushes in full-strength vinegar. Re move the softened paint with a wire comb or brush.
22. To remove oil or enamel paint from your hands, rub on paste floor wax and then wash with plenty of soap and warm water. There is no odor and it’s easier on the skin than paint remover.
23. In time, a partly used can of paint will develop a skin on top. To prevent this, cut wax paper the size of the can and drop it in.
24. To save partial cans of leftover paint, fill the airspace with a lightly inflated balloon before pressing on the lid.
25. A coat of penetrating stain applied to a smooth wood surface may last only three or four years, but a second application after the wood has weathered will last as long as 10.
26. To give bathroom fixtures a new look, paint with an epoxy paint, sold especially for that purpose.
27. Never stir varnish. It has no color pigments which need blending and stirring will create air bubbles which can ruin a smooth finish.
28. To frost a bathroom or garage window, make a solution of one cup of beer to four tbsp. Epsom salts and paint on the window. It washes off when you want a clear pane again.
29. If you have a small hole in your wall (after moving pictures etc.) take a wax crayon as near the color of your wall as possible. Rub the hole with the crayon, polish with a dry cloth and the hole is invisible.
30. Clean out old nail polish bottles and fill with ‘touch-up’ paint for scuffs and scratches that may occur on your walls.
31. When hanging pictures on plaster walls, put a small piece of adhesive tape where the nail is to go in. Drive the nail through the tape. This helps prevent the plaster from cracking.
32. When drilling a hole in any kind of wall, take an envelope, crease the edges to hold it open, then fasten it to the wall just under where you are drilling. It keeps a great deal of mess from hitting the floor and makes clean-up easier.
33. After wallpaper or painting, write the amount under a light-switch plate and you’ll always know how much wallpaper or paint you need for that room.
34. To remove old wallpaper, first pull off as much as you can, then soak the remaining with Fleecy. It will peel off easily.
35. Before wallpapering a wall, apply a coat of clear varnish to any grease spots. This will prevent the grease from soaking through the new paper.
36. Instead of applying wallpaper with a sponge, dip a paint roller in the solution, squeeze slightly to prevent dripping and roll it over 20-30 sq. feet at a time.
37. Buy stair carpeting a little longer than needed. When it shows signs of wear it can be shifted downward to delay replacement.
38. To avoid wearing out spots on heavy traffic areas, use extra pieces of material cut out of the same material as the rug or linoleum.
39. If your kitchen cupboards have worn out or if there are scuff marks around the handles, remove handles and glue on tiles to cover the scuffs. Replace handles over the tiles. This adds an interesting color accent and saves replacing or re finishing the doors.
40. When a drain is clogged with grease, pour a cup of salt and a cup of baking soda into the drain, followed by a kettle of boiling water.
41. If your water taps have a tendency to freeze during a cold spell, leave your taps on slightly: Running water will not freeze.
42. Frozen water pipes can safely and easily be thawed out by using an ordinary hair dryer nozzle directed at the frozen pipe.
43. To tighten cane-bottomed chairs, turn them upside down and liberally apply hot water to the underside. Dry the chairs in the sun.
44. When sanding or refinishing, cover your hand with an old nylon stocking. Glide your hand over the surface to be re done. Any rough areas will snag the stocking where more sanding needs to be done.
45. To restore odor to an old cedar chest or closet, sandpaper lightly. This reopens pores in the wood to restore breathing.
46. Spring-type clothespins are useful as clamps to hold light weight glued materials together.
47. To find a wall stud, hold a pocket compass level with the floor and at a right angle to the wall. Slowly move it along the surface of the wall. Movement of the compass will indicate the presence of nails and reveal stud location.
48. You always have a measuring tape in your pocket — a dollar bill is exactly six inches long and just short of three inches wide.
49. Use non-stick vegetable spray to lubricate squeaky hinges and sticky locks.
50. Loosen rusted nuts or bolts with a few drops of ammonia or peroxide.
51. To help remove stubborn nuts and bolts, pour on some cola soft drink.
52. You can retrieve a broken key by putting some strong metal adhesive on the handle and holding it to the part stuck in the lock. Hold it there until the glue has set. When it holds, pull out the key. Don’t use the key again.
53. Four or five mothballs in your toolbox will keep the tools from rusting.
54. A piece of chalk or charcoal in your toolbox will attract moisture and keep your tools from rusting.
55. Save your old nuts, bolts and washers. They make excellent sinkers for your fishing line.
56. Use discarded milk cartons, with the tops cut off, to store items in the workshop. Great for nails, screws etc.
57. If one of your saucepan lids is missing a knob, put a screw through the hole with the point upwards and push a cork down onto it.
58. To store a handsaw safely, cover the teeth with a split length of old garden hose.
59. Stop drawers from sticking by running a candle along the tops.
60. To sharpen scissors, fold a piece of aluminum foil three times, then cut through it several times with your scissors.
61. Electrical cords from kitchen appliances are easy to find when stored in cardboard tubes from disposable towels. Color codes the end of the tube if you have more than one in a drawer.
62. Tuck electric appliance cords and extension cords into toilet tissue tubes, labelling each by length and by which cord fits which appliance.
63. To keep cords of curling irons and blow dryers together in a drawer, use ponytail holders.
64. To remove broken light bulbs with ease, put switch into off position, then push a raw potato into the base and twist the broken bulb out.
65. To get a broken light bulb out of the socket, turn the switch off, then stick a soft bar of soap into the jagged edges of glass and use the soap as a handle to unscrew it easily and safely.
66. If your flashlight batteries are getting weak while on a camping trip and you cannot replace them immediately, set them in the bright sunlight during the day and they will be temporarily rejuvenated.
67. The charcoal in a range hood filter can be recharged by placing it in a 450-degree oven for 30 minutes after cleaning the metal frame.
68. When mailing fragile items, pack the excess space in the box with popped popcorn to insulate the package against damage/breakage.
69. To allow sliding windows or drawers to move easier, use a bar of soap to grease tracks or runners.
70. When a pin or needle won’t penetrate an article, rub pin or needle in your hair and try again.
71. Why climb a ladder? Use binoculars to get a closer look.
72. Your ladder won’t sink into soft earth if you place each leg into an empty coffee can or paint can.
73. A discarded fan belt from the car makes an ideal gutter- cleaning tool. Being flexible, yet firm, this belt is easily formed to shape the bottom of the gutter which enables muck and leaves to be scraped out without scratching the paint inside the gutter.
74. Use old or leftover linoleum to cover seats and tops of picnic tables.
75. Small holes in window screens can be repaired by dabbing the hole with successive layers of clear nail polish.
76. Put an extra house key in a water-tight container or plastic bag and store outside the house in the flower bed, under a rock etc. so you will never be locked out.
77. Use extra-large plastic garbage bags as inexpensive protective covers for folding lawn furniture. This allows furniture to be stored outdoors without damage.
78. Snow will slide off a shovel which has been sprayed with furniture polish or vegetable oil.
79. Rub your snow shovel with parawax or candle wax before using. Even wet snow will slide off without build-up, keeping the shovel light and easy to manoeuvre.
80. Use your fertilizer spreader to scatter sand on icy walkways.
81. To remove dangerous ice off your steps, sprinkle with salt.
82. Kitty litter can be used to de-ice your sidewalks and steps.
83. Fireplace Starters or Lighters: Save the lint from your dryer and paper egg cartons (not Styrofoam). Cut egg cartons into individual cups and fill cups with lint. Melt wax (from old candle stubs) and pour some over the lint. When lighting the fireplace use these, place them under the kindling in the fireplace. They are slow burning and do a great job in lighting the lire.
84. Dried orange and grapefruit peels and rind make good fuel in a fireplace and give off a lovely aroma as they burn.
85. Throw salt on fireplace logs once a month to prevent soot in the fireplace.
86. To prevent your fireplace from smoking, raise the fire grate by placing bricks under the legs.
87. Save your Nabob coffee bags to burn in the fireplace. Roll up tightly and then watch the varicolored flames when the bags are burned.
88. To add a little color to your campfire, soak pinecones in a solution of 1/2 gallon water and ½ pound Borax. When dry, they burn a vivid green.
89. To make your Christmas tree last longer, add sugar to the water.
90. To preserve your Christmas tree longer, add Pine sol to the water.
91. To fireproof the Christmas tree, mix eight oz. boracic acid in one gallon of water. Spray mixture over tree and let dry.
92. To clean automobile chrome, rub with dampened aluminum toil.
93. Add one cup of kerosene to the wash water when washing the car. Wipe well with a soft cloth — no rinsing is necessary. This will prevent rust and water will actually bead on the car during a rainfall.
94. Wash your car with liquid dishwashing detergent. It won’t scratch the surface.
95. Use dry baking soda on a damp cloth to clean the bugs off the car windshield.
96. Windshield wipers smearing? Clean the windshield and wiper blade with rubbing alcohol.
97. Make your own windshield washer fluid by combining one quart rubbing alcohol, one cup water and two Tblsp. liquid detergents.
98. Use steel wool pads on your tire white side walls to keep them new looking.
99. Keep open cans of motor oil clean by sealing them with the plastic lids from one-pound tins of coffee.
100. A sheet of fabric softener under your car seat will keep the car smelling fresh.
101. To clean corrosion from battery posts, make a paste of baking soda and water (paste should be thickness of cream). Brush on posts, leave for 10 minutes and brush off with water. Wipe dry with a rag. This leaves the posts and battery clean.
102. Before leaving on holidays or a weekend trip in the summer, spray the front of your car with cooking oil (such as Pam). This will keep the bugs from sticking to the grill. Those that do will wash off with ease.
103. Place moth balls in car trunk and interior if you’re going to park your vehicle for several months. Mice will not take up occupancy.
104. Run your car air-conditioner five minutes weekly during the winter months to keep it in good condition.
105. Prevent car doors from freezing by wiping the rubber gaskets with vegetable oil to seal out water.
106. If your car door locks freeze, use your hairdryer to thaw them out.
107. If door locks are frozen and a hairdryer is not available, heat the key with a lighter or match.
108. To avoid having your car extension cord stolen, buy a somewhat longer cord, plug it in and, with the extra length, loop it and put it inside the door and close it. An alternative is to drive the front wheel over the cord.
109. Your car block heater may be plugged in but the current may not be getting through. To make certain it is, wire in an inexpensive circuit test into the receptacle end of the heater cord. When you see the glow, you know the current is getting through.
110. Be prepared for winter driving by purchasing a strip of expanded metal about eight inches wide and 24 inches long. (This is a diamond-patterned screen that can be purchased at most tin smith shops.) When placed under the wheels of your vehicle, it can get you out of most spots.
111. If your car is stuck in snow, your floor mats or an old carpet, stored in the trunk, can be placed under the rear wheels for traction.
112. Save old milk cartons and fill with sand to carry in your car in case you get stuck in the snow.
113. Fill old milk cartons with old melted candles and/or parawax, insert a wick and keep in the trunk of your car in case of winter emergency.
114. When travelling in the winter is prepared. Carry in your trunk a couple of plastic pails of dry sand, one small shovel, sleeping bags, a well-charged flashlight, outdoor extension cord and a couple of pairs of heavy wool socks (you can always use socks on your hands but it is difficult to put gloves on your feet). Always make certain that your gas tank is above the half-full mark.
115. Preserve your garage floor, particularly in the winter, by placing carpet remnants on the area where the tires come in contact with the floor.
116. To remove grease and oil stains from concrete, first scrape off as much of the stain as possible with a putty knife. Wet down the stains and sprinkle on TSP crystals (Trisodium Phosphate Crystals which can be purchased from most hardware stores). As the crystals dissolve, use a bristle brush and work on the stain for 15-20 minutes. Add a little more TSP and brush the spot vigorously. Mop up stain with clean water.
117. Here are ways to remove oil stains on your driveway. For fresh stains, sprinkle kitty lifter, grind in with your foot, let it absorb the oil, then sweep up. For older stains, use Spray N Wash, let stand approximately five minutes, and then sprinkle on laundry detergent, scrub with stiff broom, then hose down. For really tough stains, use oven spray, let set and rinse with clear water.