DIY Tricks for the Unhandy

Don’t know the difference between a screwdriver and a ratchet? Don’t sweat it. These simple DIY tricks can be handled by any unhandy man or woman who’s willing.

DIY Tricks for the Unhandy

Quiet That Slamming Screen Door

Forget trying to track down a professional handyman, and then paying big bucks for him to drive out and fix your noisy screen door. Here’s the easy way to achieve silence of the slams: Apply a few small beads of clear silicone caulk along the jamb in a few places where the door hits. Prop the door open for a few hours to make sure the silicone dries before you close it again.

Keep Pictures Straight

There’s no telling what an interior decorator would charge you to solve the annoying and recurring problem of pictures that won’t stay level. Follow this nifty trick and you won’t have to find out:

  1. Push straight pins into the backside of the frame, one at each bottom corner, and then clip off the heads, leaving about a quarter inch sticking out of the frame.
  2. Hang the picture.
  3. Straighten it with a level.
  4. Gently push the bottom corners so that the pins prick the drywall, securing the frame in place.

Plastic Plumbing Solutions

You might find it less daunting to do your own plumbing work if you use PVC pipes instead of copper pipes. PVC is cheaper, and there are no torches and soldering involved. All you need are the plastic pipes and glue. Here are a couple of trade secrets for working with PVC:

  • Before cutting, measure the length you want, mark it with a pencil, and then wrap tape around the pipe. Using a pencil, follow the edge of the tape around. Remove the tape, and you’re left with your cutting mark.
  • Avoid gluing fittings backward. Once the glue dries, the pieces are stuck, and mistakes become do-overs. Try this trick to make everything come out right. After cutting your sections, dry-fit them in place, making sure the fittings face the right way and lengths are correct. When everything looks right, make a mark across both pipe and fitting with a thick colored wax pencil. When you take them apart to apply the glue, you’ll be able to line up the pencil marks again quickly and easily for a perfect fit.

Demystify the Drill

The electric drill is by far the most popular power tool in our homes, and manufacturers sell all kinds of add-ons to help you drill holes that are straighter and of proper depth. Here are three tricks that eliminate the need for these extras:

  • To drill a hole to a precise depth, you don’t need a special collar to stop the bit. Just mark the depth on the bit with a piece of masking tape.
  • To drill a vertically straight hole, you don’t need a frame that holds the drill perfectly upright. Just nail two short scraps of wood together at right angles to use as a guide. Just be sure the scraps have square factory-cut edges.
  • To drill a horizontally straight hole, again you don’t need a frame. Just slip a washer on the bit before you put in the drill chuck. The washer will slide forward or backward if you are not drilling straight. 

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