After decades of experience in the tool and construction industry, we’ve learned some pretty awesome time and sanity saving tool tips, tricks, and hacks. Here’s a list of our best general tool tips and life hacks to help you do your best work!
Put a Stop to hard to use rolls of tape!
Tired of searching for the end of the tape, only to have to work to get it started? Here’s the solution: just stick a washer to the end of the tape after you’ve used it. The next time you want a piece of tape, you have a nifty tab to help you out.
Use a masonry bit to break through frozen ground
It can be almost impossible to stick things like holiday lights and driveway markers into frozen ground. There’s also the risk of breaking or bending the item. A masonry bit chucked into a drill does an excellent job of breaking though the frozen tundra and creating a pre-drilled hole. Just make sure the bit is slightly smaller that the item going into the ground so the item will have some friction against the hole and will stay in place.
Don’t let the Cold Weather slow you or your pneumatic tools down.
When the temperatures start to decline during the late fall and winter months the cold air can cause havoc with your air compressors, air hoses, and pneumatic tools. Protect your tools and productivity with a Winter Blend Air Tool Lubricant and when the temperatures get really low and the moisture in your air lines start to freeze take a tip from the trucking industry. Run Air Brake Antifreeze in your lines, this will prevent them and your tools from freezing up and protect them from rust.
Crayons will allow you to keep your line in wet conditions
When using a wet saw to cut tile, mark your cut lines with a crayon. Pencil lines tend to wash off or become hard to read. Your crayon marks should remain easy-to-read until you decide to clean them off.
How to use magnets to prevent damage to your shop vacuum
Stop sucking up small metal objects into your shop vacuum! Tired of bending over to pick up screws, nails and other metal pieces as you clean up? Worse yet, do you hate sucking these objects up with your shop vacuum? Here’s an ingenious solution: Epoxy magnets to a coupling that slips snugly over your shop vac hose. Use this “attractive” coupling to separate the metal from other debris and make it easy for collection.
How to avoid dust when drilling
Tired of falling debris when using your cordless drill overhead? Keep Things Tidy with a Common Household Item Cut down a paper cup and drill through the bottom. Now you’ve got a great way to catch debris when drilling overhead!
How to remove stripped and damaged screws in a flash
Not much puts the breaks on a project faster than stripping a screw head or snapping the head completely off. Here’s where the rubber hits the road! Simply place a wide rubber band over the damaged head and unscrew as normal.
How to remove a screw when you break the screw head completely off
Just make things groovy! Use a rotary tool with a cut-off disc to grind a groove into the top of the broken screw. Then, use a slot-head screwdriver to twist the screw out.
How to avoid stripping screws
A lot of mishaps result from incorrectly using a drill/driver. Make sure the drill/driver’s clutch (the sliding ring of numbers) is set appropriately. The clutch stops the bit from turning when the motor feels a certain amount of torque, less at lower numbers and more at higher numbers. As a rule, set it low for small screws and higher for large ones. Also, you should first drill a pilot hole to minimize resistance.
How to make a DIY non-marring hammer
Need some gentle persuasion? Slip a rubber leg tip onto the head of your hammer to protect a surface. A rubber mallet is usually the better choice of course, but these tips can save space in your on-the-go tool box.
How to stir a can of paint or stain without a stick
Stirring a can of stain with a stick can bring up clumps of pigment from the bottom of the can. To avoid this, don’t use a stick; simply drop a few large nuts into the can, replace the lid and give it a swirl.
How to make an extra hand when clamping miters
Gluing a frame’s mitered joints together while keeping the corners square can be a nerve-wracking task. To tame the process, make two notched strips of wood, as shown in the photo. The notches allow you to use clamps while gluing two pieces together in perfect alignment! After the glue cures, remove the strips and then use them to glue the remaining corners.
How to Shorten a Bolt
Chuck it into your drill and simply hold a hacksaw as your drill does the work.
How to uniquely date your wood projects
Early furniture makers carved the date of completion on their pieces. Here’s a super easy (and super cool) way to date your creation and make it identifiable. And it will only cost you one shiny penny! Take a ¾” Forstner bit and bore a 1/16” deep hole on the back of your piece. Take a new penny from the current year and secure it in the hole with a small dab of epoxy. In years to come, when people see the inlayed penny, they’ll be reminded that it’s your creation and know when you built it.
How to avoid a mess when drilling into a wall
When drilling into a wall, you typically leave a mess along the baseboard that requires vacuuming. But, you can avoid this tedious clean-up step. Simply fold a sticky note and attach it to the wall just below where you’ll be drilling. It’ll catch all the debris and won’t leave any marks on the wall.
How to use a story poll to prevent errors when building projects
A story pole is a measuring stick with the markings related to a particular project. Because it contains only the measurements for the project, it acts as a check against absent minded errors. Here’s how to make one. Use a narrow board that is just a little longer than the project’s longest measurement. Transfer all the measurements (lengths, widths, depths, and spacing) to the pole, clearly labeling each one. Now when it’s time to cut your pieces, simply use the pole as a custom yardstick. And, since it is ridged, you can clamp it to the work piece if necessary. If you prefer using a measuring tape, FastCap makes a hybrid tape that has conventional measurements on one edge, and a strip of white space on the other for erasable pencil notations. The FastCap tape measure even has a built-in pencil sharpener!
How to easily vacuum hard to reach places
Concentrate your vacuum’s suction power to get to every nook and cranny. Drill a hole in a spray cans cap. Then, insert a straw in the hole and place the cap on the end of your vacuum’s hose. The suction will keep the cap in place as you clean. (You may want to add a dab of glue to the straw to keep it from getting sucked out of the cap!)
How to make free tool storage
Packing material can easily be transformed into handy tool storage. Cut the material to the best size to hold your tools and to fit the desired space. These holders are great for storing many tools such as router bits, drill bits, pencils, and Allen wrenches.
How to use a screwdriver to get a grip on tough screws
Screwdriver handles are made so that you can get a good grip on them. Many of these handles are also shaped to accept a wrench to give you added torque if needed. This technique is handy in tight spaces using a short, stubby screwdriver.
How to use C-clamps to carry heavy items
Give your fingers and back a break! Attach C-clamps to hard-to-carry items like plywood and particleboard for a great set of handles. They can be placed where it is comfortable to carry and used by right handed or left handed workers.
How to use woodworking glue to remove a splinter
Place a dab of woodworking glue over the area with the splinter, cover it with a bandage strip, and let it dry overnight. In the morning when you remove the bandage and dried glue, the splinter is usually pulled out in the process.
How to help prevent rust on your tools
Throw moisture-absorbing silica gel packs in your tool box to help fight off rust. Best of all, these packs can be free! You’ll find them in packaging for electronics and other items.
How to highlight Pencil Marks with Chalk
Use chalk to keep pencil lines from “disappearing” when drawn on darker woods. Simply rub white chalk over the general area you’ll be marking to give your eyes a break while you make spot-on cuts. To clean off the chalk simply brush off any loose chalk and wipe with a damp cloth.
How to give your shovel an upgrade
If you’ve had your shovel for a while, chances are you’ve dulled the edge by hitting a few rocks and roots. To save time and energy in digging, take a moment to sharpen your shovel. You’ll find that a sharp shovel will cut through the ground much easier. Secure the shovel with clamps or in a vice. File a 45-degree bevel on the edge. When finished restoring the bevel, make a few strokes with the file against the backside of the shovel to remove any burs.
How to Make a Screwdriver for Glasses
If you ever find the screw for your glasses loosening up while on the jobsite and you can’t find your mini screwdriver, don’t worry. Grab a paper clip and your hammer. Now before you break your glasses with the hammer, just flatten one end of the paper clip with the hammer and Voila, you have your mini screwdriver for glasses in your hand.
How to Repair Wood Dents
This has happened to all of us at one time or another when working on a project. Have faith, the project is not ruined and you do not need to start over. To fix a dented piece of wood, don’t reach for your sander! Instead, reach for this surprising tool that you probably already own… You can’t sand out a dent without removing a ton of material. However, you can fix the dent by restoring the damaged wood fiber. Place a damp cloth over the dented area, and then run a hot household iron over the cloth. The steam created by the iron will restore the wood fibers like magic. (You may wish to sand the area after it dries.)
How to make a jig to help hang cabinet doors
When hanging or adjusting cabinet doors, it’s helpful to have a third hand. Here’s the next best thing. Make a simple jig that can be clamped to the cabinet’s frame to support the door as you work your door-hanging magic.
How to organize your tool drawer
Here’s an easy way to make drawer dividers to keep your tools in their place. First, cut two pieces of ½” stock for the outside walls of the drawer. Cut another piece from ¾” stock to go in the middle. For all three pieces, the length should be the depth of the drawer and the width should be slightly less than the drawer’s height. Next, cut the grooves for the dividers. On the table saw, cut ¼” wide grooves ¼” deep with a dado blade or by making several passes with a standard blade. The outside pieces get grooves on one side and the middle piece gets grooves on both sides. The grooves can be spaced 1” apart to allow flexibility in the spacing of the dividers. Pla
ce the pieces with grooves in the drawer to suit your space needs. (The middle piece does not have to run down the exact center.) Then cut ¼” stock to fit in between these pieces and slide them into place.
How to protect your walls when pulling nails out
Wrap a few rubber bands around the hammer head and your walls will thank you. The rubber bands will provide good cushion and eliminate marring as your hammer’s claw yanks out nails.
How to quickly choose the right size bit
Take the bits you commonly use and drill holes in the top edge of a piece of wood. Drill a corresponding hole into the side of the wood. The top holes store the bits. The holes on the side provide a quick way to check which size bit will work best for the application.
How to sharpen a knife using a coffee cup
First step: finish your coffee. Then, flip your ceramic mug upside down and use the bottom edge to sharpen the knife. (The bottom must be ceramic.) This technique works surprisingly well and can come in handy when you are away from your shop and need to sharpen a knife, chisel, or pair of scissors.
How to build a DIY cord and hose storage
Just drill two holes in a piece of PVC or dowel rod. Insert a section of bungee cord and tie it off. Boom! You’ve got a great way to keep your extension cords and hoses organized.
How to prevent your drill from wandering when drilling glass and tile
As you begin to drill into hard surfaces such as glass, tile, and metal, the bit often slides around and makes scratches. To stop the bit from wandering, tape a piece of thin cardboard over the area to be drilled. The cardboard provides the bit with a good, soft place to start.
How to store two part epoxy tubes together
Don’t go rummaging around looking for both tubes of two-part epoxy that tend to get separated from each other. Keep them together with packing tape. Make sure there is enough room between them after taping to easily complete the gluing process. Also, use clear tape so that you can still read the instructions on the tube.
How to remove sticky residue
Tool electrical cords tend to get covered with residue from tape or other adhesives, turning them into an all-out mess. To make the cord clean and shiny again, just apply a little WD-40 and wipe them with a rag. Works like magic!
How to sharpen a pencil FAST
Save time and save your wrist when sharpening your pencil by chucking it into your drill and insert it into the sharpener. Don’t worry about turning the sharpener. Instead let your drill turn the pencil. BOOM, your pencil is ready for action. Get the point?!?