9 Home Tips and Quick Fixes

From the front lawn to your ceiling and everywhere in between, check out these clever solutions for everyday problems from our readers.

Engine Markup

engine marking with sharpie markerFamily Handyman

Use a permanent marker to write the exact oil blend for your two-cycle engine on any clean surface of the tool. It’ll save you from running to the file cabinet to find your manual or grabbing the wrong mix.

Myron Porter

Ventilated Shop Vacuum Attachment

Vacuum cleaning carpetFamily Handyman

The floor attachments for shop vacuums can get suctioned to the floor, making it difficult to pick up debris. Attachments for newer models have risers on their bottom edges to improve performance.

For an older attachment without risers, there’s an easy fix: Cut 1/4-in.-deep notches every inch or so along the rim with a hacksaw. Now the attachment will slide around easily and clean much more effectively.

Terry Thompson

Add Fractions Fast

Fh08oct 492 08 008 1200Family Handyman

Adding 1-13/16 in. to 3-3/8 in. (or any fractions) doesn’t have to hurt. Just line up two rulers or tape measures side by side and read the answer instantly, with complete accuracy. It works for subtraction, too — just read the numbers in the other direction.

Nick D’Alto

Quicker Fixture Mounting

quick fixer mountingFamily Handyman

Surface-mounted fixtures come with a layer of foil-faced insulation, which can make it difficult to line up the mounting keyholes with the screws on the electrical box. But using a screwdriver as a guide saves a lot of time and frustration.

Slip the screwdriver shaft through the keyhole and stick the tip in the screw head. Slide the fixture over the shaft, rotate the fixture until the second screw comes into view, then twist the fixture on the screw heads and snug them up.

Alan Grandys

Ladle, Not Pour

laddeling paint Family Handyman

When you need a small amount of paint, don’t pour it out of the can. Use an old soup ladle! You won’t mess up the can rim or slop paint down the side, and you can ladle out exactly what you need. Bon appetit!

Ann Hatzung

Unpeel Peel-and-Stick

unpeeling and sticking contact paper in drawerFamily Handyman

When my wife and I were putting new contact paper in our kitchen drawers, I was getting really frustrated trying to separate the contact paper from its backing.

To solve the problem, I put a piece of tape on one corner of the contact paper and another piece on the same corner of the backing. I folded down the top of each piece of tape about 1/2-in. to get a better grip, then I pulled the pieces of tape apart. The paper and backing separated easily. This also works well on labels, stickers and the like.

Ken Eastman

Easy Drywall Patch for Big Holes

Easy Drywall Patch for Big HolesFamily Handyman

Doorknob-size holes in drywall can take a lot of time to patch. Here’s a way to make the repair quicker and easier. Make sure to remove any loose paper or drywall chunks around the hole before you patch it.

  • Add insulating foam: Stuff newspaper loosely into the hole and spray expanding insulating foam into the hole to make the patch more stable.
  • Slice the foam off: After the foam dries, use a pull saw to cut it off. Then sand it flush with the wall.
  • Tape and patch: Apply fiber mesh drywall tape that’s cut slightly larger than the hole. Then use joint compound to do the final patching.

Doug Winslow

Finish Six Sides of a Door at Once

door being stained while hanging from ceilingFamily Handyman

Staining or sealing a door takes a while if you set it on sawhorses to do one side, then let it dry before flipping it over to do the other. Here’s how to cut the drying time in half.

Hang two chains from the open joists in your garage and put an S-hook on each of the ends. Hang the door by sliding the hooks through the door’s hinge leaves or barrels. Then you can stain the entire door at one time.

Randy Sanders

Throw Burglars a Curve

ADT signvia amazon.com

A great way to thwart criminals is to trick them at their own game.

Studious thieves learn how to dismantle different types of security systems. So, while I want to communicate to burglars I have a security system, I don’t want to give away which one. For that reason, I always have a yard sign and window decals that don’t match the one installed in my home. You can buy security signs and stickers online.

Gabe Turner  security expert, security.org

Mike Berner
Mike can build any complicated project. He also reviews tools with a keen attention to detail and creates projects for every level of DIYer. He learned some of his craft when he was a schoolteacher, but more as a builder. When he’s not building or remodeling something, Mike has two young kids that keep him on his toes.