65 Cool Tool Hacks — Handy Hints from The Family Handyman

Jenny Stanley Tool hacks usually happen on the fly, when you’re in a situation that calls for a tool to be modified slightly or used in a way that’s different than its intended purpose Many of the following tool hacks were created for those reasons—and some were just stumbled upon while tinkering in the shop 1 / 65 Quick Woodworking File This woodworking file comes in handy for sanding in tight spaces Cut a piece of sandpaper to fit around a paint stir stick Then use spray adhesive or an all-purpose glue to adhere it to the stick Write the sandpaper grit on the handle of the stir stick, if you plan to store it for later use 2 / 65 Custom Pads for a Mechanic’s Vise Make custom pads for a mechanic’s vise by cutting wood blocks to fit across the vise shaft Use a jigsaw to cut out the notches in the wood blocks, and add a bead of hot glue (optional) to hold them in place on the vise 3 / 65 More Planing, Less Exercise Planing boards with a portable planer can provide you with a lot of exercise But rather than running from the infeed side to the outfeed side before the board flips your portable planer, try this instead: Attach your portable planer to a board; then fasten the board to a miter saw stand Then planing boards won’t wear you out so quickly! 4 / 65 Paint Can Opener on Hand Always have a paint can opener on hand when you’re ready to start a painting project Use pliers or a multitool to slightly bend open the loop of the opener Then hook it onto the handle of the paint can you just purchased 5 / 65 Use a Sneaker to Clean Sandpaper Make sandpaper nearly new again with a lowly old sneaker Start up your power sander and dust collection system (remember to wear hearing and eye protection )

Then slowly press the rubber sole of an old sneaker along the sandpaper —you’ll see a difference instantly! 6 / 65 How to Magnetize a Screwdriver Magnetize the end of a screwdriver to drive screws with just one hand.

This hint is especially useful for working in tight spaces where there isn’t room for you to hold a screw with one hand while you turn the screwdriver with the other 7 / 65 Hands-Free Light Hack Make a hands-free light in a snap with a flashlight, a pair of pliers and a rubber band

Place the flashlight in the jaws of the pliers ; then wrap a rubber band around the handles of the pliers.

That’s it! Point the light wherever you need it 8 / 65 Brush with a Drill Got a big scrubbing job on your list? Chuck a brush into your drill and save the elbow grease You’ll find drill-ready brushes for all kinds of scrubbing from Drillbrush 9 / 65 Kitty Litter Pouch for Tool Protection Make a rust-preventing pouch for your toolbox with a scoop of silica crystal kitty litter , a piece of breathable fabric and a zip tie

Toss it in your toolbox to keep out excess moisture and protect your prized possessions.

10 / 65 Two Sizes of Brad Nails in One Gun For small projects such as trimming one door, store two sizes of brad nails in one nail gun This puts both sizes of nails right in your hand; you just have to open up the magazine and put the correct-size nail at the top when you need it 11 / 65 Caulk Gun Clamp Did you know that you can use a caulk gun as a clamp ? It’s perfect for gluing up small projects such as a cutting board Just place a couple of pieces of scrap wood or cardboard at the ends of the caulk gun and then squeeze the trigger to apply pressure 12 / 65 Hammer Cushion A rubber chair leg cap instantly converts a hammer into a rubber mallet And if you want to drive a nail without denting the surrounding wood, cut a hole in the rubber cap Pound until the rubber strikes wood, then finish driving the nail with a nail set A 1-1/8-in rubber cap fits tightly over most hammers and costs about $1 at home centers and hardware stores 13 / 65 Check if a Square is Square Follow these simple steps for ensuring that your square is square : Align the short side of the square with the factory edge of a piece of plywood

Draw a line along the edge of the long side of the square.

Flip over the tool and align the base of the mark with the same edge of the long side of the square Draw another line If the marks do not align perfectly, the square is not square 14 / 65 How to Fix a Square Before tossing your off-kilter square and spending money on a new one, try fixing it with this simple process Use a center punch, a hammer and an anvil

If the sides of the square are too close together, punch the inner corner.

If the sides are too far apart, punch the outer corner Check your progress, and repeat as needed until the square is square 15 / 65 Lighted Screwdriver Hack No need for fancy hand tools with built-in LED lights, opt for this lighted screwdriver hack instead When working in a dark space such as inside a cabinet, make your own lighted screwdriver by taping a keychain-size flashlight to the shaft It’ll shine the light right where you need it 16 / 65 Compressor Creeper Save your back by storing your air compressor on a mechanic’s creeper , so you can easily tote it around your workshop or garage Depending on the size of your compressor, you may be able to store your hose on the creeper, too 17 / 65 Saddles for Sawhorses Give your sawhorses padded, non-marring surfaces that protect your projects by wrapping the top rails with pieces of old carpet or rugs

Use a utility knife and a straightedge to cut the carpet along the woven backing; then secure the pieces to the sawhorses with staples.

18 / 65 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 19 / 65 Drill Hangout Those big hooks that are often used to hang bikes also make slick drill hangers Get them at any home center for a couple of bucks apiece Take it up a notch and build this drill dock with plywood 20 / 65 Vise-Grips to Pull Nails Vise-Grip pliers make great nail pullers The tool locks onto the nail , creating a secure hold, and the curve of the head provides excellent leverage Use a putty knife under the pliers if you plan to salvage the material after removing the nails 21 / 65 Circle Gets the Square Here’s a magical way to trace arcs and circles for project parts

Tap two finish nails at the ends of a desired diameter, then rotate a framing square against the nails while holding a pencil in the square’s corner.

Spray the underside of the square with silicone or rub on some paraffin so it’ll glide smoother Then practice a little to get the feel of the three-point contact technique 22 / 65 Customized Chuck Key If you’ve ever scraped your fingers when tightening a drill chuck, you’ll love this tip

First measure the diameter and length of the chuck key’s handle and drill a matching hole in the end of a 4-in.

x 3/4-in-diameter wood dowel Then hold the handle in a vise and tap the dowel onto the chuck with a hammer The advantages? Besides no longer scraping your fingers on the gears, you’ll have increased leverage with less effort and a much more comfortable grip when tightening the chuck Plus: Never lose your chuck key again! 23 / 65 Flush-Cutting Hacksaw Trim dowel plugs flush on fine furniture projects without scarring the adjacent surface Apply a couple of layers of masking tape or a single layer of duct tape to a hacksaw blade with an untaped section between for sawing While you’re sawing, the tape elevates the blade a smidgen so it can’t scratch the surrounding wood After sawing, lightly sand the dowel to even it with the wood 24 / 65 Last-Ditch Nail Pulling If you’re trying to pull a nail and the head breaks off, try gripping the nail tightly with a locking pliers, then pull against the pliers Check out the all-time most useful hand tools for demolition 25 / 65 Long-Reach Screwdriver When you need to extend the reach of your cordless screwdriver, just pull the shaft out of a four-way screwdriver and clamp it in the chuck 26 / 65 Longer-Lasting Utility Blade Most often, it’s just the tip that gets dull on a utility knife When it does, snap off the tip with pliers and you’re in business again Wear eye protection, because sometimes a little piece of the blade goes flying! 27 / 65 Mini Drywall Saw A coarse jigsaw blade mounted in a scrap of wood makes a handy little drywall saw

It’s easy to carry and is good for cutting around electrical boxes and other tight spots.

28 / 65 No-Dent Nail Finishing With a thin-blade saw, saw a narrow kerf 1/4 in into the end of a wood shim ($2 per pack at a home center) Press a finish nail into the slot, hold the shim against the molding and then drive in the nail The soft wood shim lets you deliver a final firm blow to leave the nailhead nearly flush with the surface Next, set the nail just below the surface with a nail set and apply wood filler 29 / 65 PVC Sanding Files Stick sandpaper to cutoff pieces of PVC water pipe with spray-on adhesive and you’ll be able to sand concave curves to perfection PVC pipe is labeled by inside diameter; here’s an index for the outside diameter of useful pipe sizes 1/2-in id = 7/8-in od

Related product