How to chop kindling
Problem: Chopping a little kindling for the fireplace is a nerve-wracking chore that severely endangers your fingers.
The quick fix: The thin pieces that are chopped up for kindling are notoriously hard to keep steady while you swing the hatchet or ax. Take a long, thin scrap of wood and nail it to the top of the kindling wood, off to one side. Now you can hold the wood without ever getting your fingers near the business end of the hatchet.
How to tighten a riveted handle
Problem: The riveted handle on your garden trowel has become loose, making even the simplest planting a chore.
The quick fix: It's not unusual for a riveted handle to loosen, whether it's on a garden trowel, a long-handled shovel or even a kitchen knife. Tightening the loose handle is easy. With the tool on a firm surface, strike the center of the handle rivet with a center punch driven by a ball-peen hammer. Don't hit it very hard, just enough to leave a small dimple. This expands the rivet slightly, taking up the slack between it and the handle.
How to fix a broken chain link
Problem: A broken or fractured link in an otherwise strong chain makes it useless for towing or for securing a gate or door.
The quick fix: Cut away the damaged link with a hacksaw or bolt cutters, and then join the two end links with a bolt and nut large enough for the shank to go through the center of the links without the head or nut following. This method can also be used to join two short pieces of chain to make a longer one.
How to protect delicate surfaces from tool marks
Problem: You're ready to tighten a showerhead or a water line and you suddenly realize that the wrench can scar a surface as easily as it can tighten it.
The quick fix: Stop a plumber's wrench from leaving its mark by wrapping chrome-plated pieces in double layers of duct tape or electrical tape before tightening them.
How to make a cordless-drill holder
The cordless drill is a marvelous invention, but it can become a hazard underfoot when you are working on a complicated renovation project. Make a handy holster for the drill by cutting off the bottom of a plastic liter-sized soda bottle, and making two vertical cuts an inch above where the bottom was cut off. Turn the bottle upside down and thread your belt through the cut slots and you have a hip-mounted holster custom-made for a cordless drill.
How to sharpen a chisel
Problem: You're in the middle of a woodworking project and your chisel has gone dull.
The quick fix: Professional woodworkers take sharpening seriously, and with good reason. Razor-sharp cutting tools work better, save time and are much safer than dull tools. Chisel sharpening doesn't have to be complicated, if you're willing to work with something that's not up to pro standards. Just use a piece of sandpaper; anything from 100-grit up to 220-grit will work. The coarser paper (lower number) will cut faster. The finer grit (higher number) will yield a sharper edge. Hold the paper on a hard surface and flatten the back of the chisel first. Then turn over the blade, hold the bevel side of the edge flat against the paper, and repeatedly pull the blade over the paper until the edge feels sharp. You may not be able to use the tool for shaving, but it will cut wood just fine.
How to make your toolshed safe
Problem: Your toolshed is a mass of sharp edges, and searching for what you need leaves you fearful of re-creating a scene from a bloody horror film.
The quick fix: Of the many uses to be found for sections of old garden hose, the most common involve the protection of cutting blades on all kinds of tools such as axes, hatchets, pruning saws, weeding hoes, garden scythes and circular saws. Just cut off a piece of hose to match the length of the blade, slit it lengthwise with a utility knife, and slide the section over the blade. The hose provides plenty of protection and doesn't slip off because it tends to tightly pinch the blade. Using these protective hose coverings saves a lot of sharpening time while greatly reducing the chance of getting accidentally cut — especially important if children play where you store your tools.