It's one thing to gather a collection of tools perfect for using all around the home, but it's another thing to keep them organized and know a few cool tricks about each. Pliers may be good for holding the supplies you're working with, but have you ever considered them as flashlight holders when working in dark spaces? You may appreciate having magnets on your fridge, but when you discover they double as tool organizers, you'll find them even more helpful.
These are the kinds of hacks and tips worth having up your sleeve. To round out your home repair knowledge, we spoke with several experts who provided fabulous tips for making your toolset go further.
Keep Tangled Extension Cords at Bay
Extension cords are useful, yes, but they always seem to tangle themselves into endless knots. Fortunately, there's a way to prevent this. "Always tie off your extension cords when using power tools," explains Rick Abbiati, owner of Colony Property Investments. "This keeps the extension cord from unplugging when you pull the cord from on top of a ladder etc."
He instructs to take both ends of the cord "and loop them around one another like you are tying your shoes, then simply plug them together." He says you'll end up with a cord that looks like a bow and is ultra sturdy while you're working.
Lean on a Magnet for Tiny Bits and Bobs
Washers, screws, and other tiny metal objects have a way of scattering and going missing the second you need them. Prevent this from happening again by using magnets to keep them attached to one object.
Some places even sell magnetic wristbands, but in lieu of purchasing something new, Michael Dean, the co-founder of Pool Research says you can also "attach a magnet to the end of your tools for easy access to screws while you're working."
Save All Those Screws
Speaking of tiny supplies, don't get caught without exactly what you need the next time you're working on a DIY project. Jeremy Yamaguchi, the CEO of Lawn Love, says, "Never get rid of screws/nails you don’t use immediately—add them to your pile!"
Yamaguchi mentions this always cuts down on those unexpected, last-minute trips to the hardware store. "I have a drawer in my garage that is full of them, and I have them all divided by size and type," he says. "This comes incredibly in handy whenever I am working on any type of project."
Safeguard Your Hammer Projects
Sometimes you want to protect the material you're hammering into. Michael Rogers, who's been a chief building engineer for over 20 years and founded Informed Cyclist, suggests "drilling a hole, just bigger than the nail head, through a small scrap piece of 1/4-inch plywood" then continue your job. "If you miss the nail, you'll only damage the 1/4-inch piece of plywood with your hammer instead of the finished piece of wood," he says.
Don't Toss Your Toothbrush
Cleaning your tools may sound like a difficult task, and to be honest, quite a pain, but it's essential for maintaining their quality and ability. "Wipe out your power tools using a cleaning solution and a rag, being careful not to get the solution near the power cords or motor," explains the founder of Sawinery Robert Johnson, who also suggests upcycling that too-old toothbrush for rejuvenating tools that are looking a little lackluster.
"Cleaning around buttons and toggles is simple with a toothbrush," he says. "Wipe off the surface with a dry rag once you've finished cleaning with the solution." He also notes that steel wool is useful for getting rid of any rusty spots you find.
Make Those Pliers Double as a Light Holder
Crawl spaces, dark corners, and nighttime fixes are tough to properly see, especially when you need your hands for working, not shedding light on the subject. If you're lacking a headlight of sorts, Zach Blenkinsopp, owner of Digital Roofing Innovations, says this isn't a hack worth missing out on.
"All you need is a pair of pliers, a flashlight, and a rubber band," he explains. "Open the pliers, put the flashlight in between the jaws of the pliers, and tie your rubber band around the plier handles, and you have a flashlight holder that you can use while you're working!"
Refresh Your Allen Keys
All those small Allen wrenches that come with furniture packs tend to lose their edge after countless spins in hexagonal sockets and screws, but don't get rid of them just yet. You can revamp them even long after they've gone dull. "Give them new life by filing off the head with a smooth metal file," says Rogers. "Your Allen key will be as good as new!"
Grab the Broom for a Tough Paint Job
Tall walls and sky-high ceilings always seem doable until you realize your ladder doesn't quite get you and your paint roller there. "Instead of running to the hardware store for an extension pole for your paint roller, the majority of common brooms can do the trick," explains JBBrandon.com founder and industrial maintenance professional, Jake Brandon. While it may sound wild, most tend to be one standard size, even if they're different brands or meant for supposedly different purposes.
Prevent Lint From Ruining Said Paint Job
Hair and lint that show up after rolling on a coat of paint are irritating at best and can ruin your paint job at worst. Even after shaking and brushing off rollers and paint brushes, it's tough to guarantee that they're free of errant fuzz. Rogers has another great tip for these instances.
"When painting with a roller, first wrap the roller sleeve from end to end with blue painter's tape, covering all the fibers in a spiral pattern," he says. "Now take the tape off and you'll also remove all of the lint and loose fibers from the sleeve, so they don't end up on your wall."
Store Garden Tools in Sand
Outdoor and garden tools are subject to the elements more than others, but there are tricks for keeping trowels, shovels, and other tools safe from any kind of corrosion. "Use a bucket of sand to store garden tools," recommends Codey Stout, the head operations manager at Tree Triage. "It’s an easy-to-use and safe storage for keeping your tools rust-free. Mix the sand with a cup of motor oil, which will help keep the rust away."