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The Dansville Online
  • Home how-tos

  • Prepare for spring home and yard work with these handy tips.

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  • Handyman Club of America members offer some of their home and garden tips:
    How to improve your wheelbarrow
    To lash down big loads, such as tree branches, grass clippings and leaves, club member Bob Rath of Brookings, Ore., installed a small cleat at each outside corner of his wheelbarrow. He attached them with machine screws and cap nuts. For big piles of loose materials, he ties a tarp over the top, which almost doubles the wheelbarrow’s capacity.
    Matching lock and key
    Mixing up locks and keys isn’t a problem for club member Harold Schlenker of Ashley, N.D. He color-codes mating keys and locks with paint. You can brush or spray the paint on, but be sure to apply an exterior finish if the locks are used outdoors.
    Easy-seal caulk
    Rather than capping a silicone caulk tube after use, club member Rick Brown of Furlong, Pa., leaves a small blob at the tip to cure. When he uses the tube again, he pulls off the hardened blob to uncork the spout. Although this method isn’t suitable for long-term storage, it works well for a few days with gun tubes and squeeze tubes.
    How to avoid slipping tools
    Club member Robert Medeiros of Dartmouth, Mass., uses the rubber mesh that prevents rugs from sliding to keep the jigs (featherboards, hold-downs, etc.) on his router table and other stationary power tools from slipping. Just place a small piece of the mesh under the jig before clamping it to the surface.
    How to identify the ground plug
    The wear caused by repeatedly trying to shove the larger blade of a polarized plug into the smaller slot of an extension cord’s female plug can make it difficult to identify the larger slot. Club member Jim Butler of Knoxville, Tenn., keeps his slots straight by painting a white circle around the larger one (that’s where the white ground wire is connected) when the cord is new. This makes it easy to see which slot should receive the wider plug blade.
    Making padded pliers
    Club member Frank May of Kansas City, Mo., reasoned that if clamps and vises can have jaw pads, why not pliers?
    To prevent the pliers’ jaws from marring delicate parts, he covers them with plastic shrink tubing normally used to cover wiring. Shrink tubing is available in several diameters and lengths (rolls) at home centers and electrical supply stores.
    Use a diameter that’s slightly larger than the jaws, cut a piece to length and slip it on, then use a heat gun to shrink the tubing.
    How to clean putty knives
    Page 2 of 2 - Rather than throw away his gunked-up putty knives, club member Lance Balwin of Prescott, Ariz., keeps the blades
    clean of paint and putty buildup with an old chisel dedicated to this purpose. He uses an inexpensive chisel that’s past its useful life for woodworking but can still take the sharp edge necessary for the job. Only a stiff, sharp blade is really effective; cleaning with another putty knife or a razor-blade knife is usually unsatisfactory.
    Tip for a sturdier pegboard
    Club member Jeffrey Barger of Vandergrift, Pa., has a clever method to keep his pegboard hooks in place that also denies spiders and other bugs a nesting spot behind the board. He simply fills the space between the board and wall with a sheet of 1-inch-thick foam rubber. The foam compresses around the hooks and prevents them from falling out.
    How to avoid losing screws
    To prevent short workpieces from falling through the jaws of his Workmate, club member Don Ayers of Houston installed 2x6 stock supports on the bottom of one of the jaws. The supports have slotted screw holes so they can be retracted behind the jaw faces when not needed. Fender washers between the screw and supports allow you to tighten the screws so the supports are snug but can still slide.
    Tip for measuring garden chemicals
    To mix lawn and garden chemicals accurately without a mess, club member Patrick Brown of Bartlett, Tenn., always puts water in his pump sprayer before adding the chemicals. He points out that many chemicals will foam if you pour water on top of them, making it difficult to judge the water level in the tank. The wrong concentration can be ineffective -- or worse, kill what you were trying to save.
    Easy labeling for electrical sources
    Faced with a drawer full of low-voltage power supplies for various household gadgets, club member Herb Sauter of Ocala, Fla., labeled them for easy identification. He applied a piece of white tape to the front of each power supply bearing the name of its mating gadget. This prevents a potential mismatch that could ruin the electronic device or cause a fire.

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